Cut off and cross

Kym Cross, with children Mathilde and Oliver, at the offending node in their street.

Kym Cross, with children Mathilde and Oliver, at the offending node in their street.

Having your phone and internet cut off right in the middle of a difficult family medical crisis could be considered a worst-case scenario.

Campbells Creek resident Kym Cross found herself in this very situation last month while her mother-in-law was gravely ill in hospital and her own father's Alzheimer's had advanced to such a point that her family was urgently trying to find high-dependency care for him.

From March 15-28, Kym and husband Steve were without a landline or internet service during this very difficult time.

The couple advised Telstra within 24 hours of reporting the fault that the disruption should be regarded as a matter of urgency due to their circumstances.

"At no time during the outage did Telstra offer us anything in regard to practical assistance, or demonstrate that any sense of priority was being applied to our situation," Kym told the Express.

"Despite almost daily calls to our assigned 'complaints manager', we felt totally let down."

Steve's mother died on March 19. The couple and their children left for NSW, returning on March 23 to find the landline was still down.

Kym had seen technicians working on the NBN node in their street the morning their phone line was first disconnected. Despite continual reports to Telstra, and even to the technicians working on the node itself, that it was clearly a node/exchange fault, Telstra's customer support insisted the fault lay with their modem.

After days and days of further calls, an ineffective modem replacement and technician visits, it was finally conceded that the fault did indeed lie with the node.

Finally, the issue was resolved in less than one hour ... 13 days later.

Following a formal complaint outlining the huge level of stress and inconvenience that was inflicted upon their family, as well as intervention from Federal MP Lisa Chesters' office, Telstra's 'Escalation Complaints and Resolution' division agreed the circumstances warranted a Customer Service Guarantee and the couple was offered financial compensation.

Telstra's area general manager Steve Tinker told the Express Telstra was sorry for the added stress the situation had caused.

"This is not the experience that we want any of our customers to have, and as customers of Telstra we absolutely should be able to give better information relating to restoration efforts and timeframes - irrespective of whether it is the NBN or Telstra network," he said.

"I will have a local member of my team reach out and personally apologise, and I will seek a review of what we should have done better in this particular instance."

While Kym and Steve say the money cannot truly compensate for what they went through, they hope their story will encourage others in similar circumstances to insist on nothing less than the same attention their case was finally given, through their persistence.

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