Telstra faces calls for rebates

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Telstra will credit Bigpond customers with two weeks access, following email delays which saw the service impacted for almost a week.

Telstra will credit Bigpond customers with two weeks access, following email delays which saw the service impacted for almost a week.

Telstra CEO Ziggy Switkowski said in a statement that now the company had determined the Swen virus was involved, it had “been able to promptly consider appropriate customer measures and introduce them”.

"The severity, suddenness and impact of this virus and spam attack was unheralded and unprecedented and has been accompanied by an increase of approximately 30 percent in daily traffic on BigPond's email network,” Switkowski said.

He said that services were returning to normal, but that it is possible some customers' services would not immediately return to pre-virus levels.

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) spokesperson Rebecca Fredericks told iTnews that the TIO office requested a rebate of residential customer access fees to affected BigPond users. Additionally, small businesses that alleged economic loss as a result of email service issues with BigPond would be investigated for possible compensation on a case by case basis.

Fredericks said TIO had received in excess of 100 complaints over a 10-day period, related to BigPond service levels and internet issues generally.

The ombudsman office issued a letter to Telstra earlier last week asking the telecommunications company to explain the cause of the service problems and how it planned to handle the matter, Fredericks said. On Friday, the ombudsman office had not yet received a formal response from Telstra on the rebate issue.

Telstra had blamed Swen, a mass mailing worm, for an email traffic surge on BigPond, but claimed the surge was "consistent with the experience of other major Internet service providers".

Fredericks said the TIO had received complaints via phone regarding the service quality from other ISPs, but had not recorded an increase in these complaints, and said they were not anywhere near the volume of complaints received about BigPond's services.

She also said there had been a significant increase in the number of complaints lodged by email, which took longer to process, so it was still not certain whether customers of other ISPs were experiencing the same issues as BigPond customers.

“[The complaints about other ISPs are] not as great a concern as Telstra,” she said. If the TIO do find that customers of other ISPs have had their service impacted too, those ISPs could also be asked to provide a rebate, Fredericks said.

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