Following a request from Communications Minister Senator Richard Alston,
the ACA said it would investigate allegations made by the Nine Network's Sunday program concerning legal action taken against the company by a group known as Casualties of Telecom Services (COTS) in the nineties.
Despite Telstra being forced to pay $16 million to the group's members as compensation following a dispute that ran from 1994 to 1999, one group member, restaurateur Ann Garms, had her claim denied.
Garms claimed poor service from Telecom (as Telstra was then known), which had been preventing calls reaching her business, had only improved after an upgrade of the Fortitude Valley exchange in 1993. Telstra said the exchange had not been upgraded, and Garms was subsequently denied compensation.
The ACA had been asked to investigate whether work done by Telstra to the Fortitude Valley Exchange around September 1993 resulted in enhancements to the service provided to Garms, ACA chairman Tony Shaw said in a statement.
The ACA would also investigate whether documents provided to Sunday related to an upgrade of the Fortitude Valley Exchange, or to the Mitchelton Exchange as claimed by Telstra.
Shaw said he expects to have an answer for the Minister within a week.
“Telstra will fully co-operate with the ACA. Telstra has nothing to hide,” Telstra chief Dr Ziggy Switkowski said in a statement. “Telstra maintains the document at the centre of the allegation does not relate to a major upgrade of the Fortitude Valley exchange,” he said.
Telstra said the original problems, around which the COT group was formed, occurred in the late eighties and nineties and did not reflect the current state of Telstra's service or complaint management processes.