TELSTRA BACKFLIP AFTER $36K CFA BILL BUNGLE:
LEOPOLD CFA FIRES UP OVER INTERNET CHARGE
TELSTRA has apologised for an “error in the system” that saw the volunteer-run Leopold Fire Brigade hit with a $36,000 bill.
Leopold CFA treasurer Lynton Botten said he was left shocked after opening the organisation’s March internet invoice to find a couple more zeros than usual on the total.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened that letter, I thought ‘What the hell are they doing?’” he said. “Fair dinkum, if Telstra was a small company they’d go broke.”
The small volunteer-run CFA outpost said the trouble started once Telstra had connected the brigade from ADSL to a NBN plan.
Before that, the CFA’s internet bill sat at about $9.95 — jumping to $70 under the new plan.
“We said ‘No, thanks’ to that and asked to be disconnected; the only time we use the internet is to print out a map for when we get a fire call,” Mr Botten said. “We’d been disconnected from the internet for about a month before we got that bill.”
Mr Botten — a CFA volunteer of 40 years and treasurer for 28 — spent hours on the phone to multiple people from different departments in Telstra, with no one able to explain what the “consulting services” fee meant or where it had come from.
“For hours I was on the phone speaking to five different people, going around in circles and not getting a straight answer,” Mr Botten said.
“I knew it had to be a mistake but the bloody problem was trying to get someone to talk to you.”
Telstra area general manager Loretta Willato yesterday apologised for the billing debacle, admitting that the CFA brigade should never have received the bill.
“We are sorry for the error that has occurred in our system, the amount that appeared on the CFA bill should have been sent to the supplier of technology to the brigade,” she said.
“We are following up the lack of action that has occurred when the issue was brought to the attention of our front of house team.”
She confirmed that the full bill — including the $9.95 internet charge for the previous month — had been withdrawn.
The Leopold CFA have confirmed they were considering shopping around for a new internet provider now the debacle was over.
Mr Botten said he had been personally contacted by Telstra representatives to apologise yesterday.
“For hours I was on the phone speaking to five different people, going around in circles and not getting a straight answer.” LEOPOLD CFA TREASURER LYNTON BOTTEN
NET FRUSTRATION: Leopold CFA treasurer Lynton Botten and Captain Ashley Browne with the huge Telstra bill for more than $36,000.