In the wake of the Optus outage, customers are being advised to keep track of any financial losses for potential compensation claims. This outage, a significant event in Australian history, has disrupted essential services and thrown millions into disarray. Starting at 4am on Wednesday, Optus users were left unable to make calls, send texts, or access the internet and home broadband services.
From Brisbane to Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, the ACT, Tasmania, and Adelaide, the outage has caused widespread blackouts of Optus services. The telco has begun the restoration process, estimated to unfold over several hours starting from around 1pm.
Optus’ chief promised a compensation
Optus chief executive Kelly Bayer Rosmarin has stated that discussions about compensation for the extensive customer base will be a priority following the full restoration of services. “We will consider every possibility once services are restored,” Ms. Rosmarin assured the public during a conversation with 2GB radio, as per a report by Daily Mail.
Acknowledging the inconvenience caused by the Optus outage, CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin has promised that the company is considering ways to show appreciation for customers’ patience. Speaking to Melbourne’s 3AW radio on Wednesday, she hinted, “You can expect something coming out from us in that regard.” Additionally, she expressed Optus’s apologies and affirmed their commitment to delivering excellent service post-outage.
Communication Minister Michelle Rowland echoed the nation’s sentiment at an 11am press conference, articulating shared frustrations and emphasizing the need for Optus to conduct itself with transparency and promptness in resolving the issue. “The frustration is multifaceted, extending from inconvenience to economic impact,” she remarked.
Rowland outlined that the cause of the outage was a ‘deep fault’ with extensive effects on mobile, fixed, and broadband services. While deeming it premature to discuss compensation during the ongoing issue, she encouraged customers to meticulously document the outage’s effects for future claims.
Communication Minister Michelle Rowland has addressed the concerns of those impacted by the Optus outage, suggesting that it is too soon to be definitive about compensation or consumer rights. “In relation to customers who have been affected… at this time it is probably too early to be discussing or be giving definitive views about compensation or other consumer rights,” she stated.
Reinforcing the statement from the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (TIO), Rowland stressed the importance for small businesses, in particular, to retain receipts. Such documentation is vital for any potential recourse and redress. She emphasized the necessity of an evidentiary base for claims.
The TIO has signaled its readiness to support Optus customers in seeking refunds. It advised that dissatisfied customers, following contact with Optus, have the right to lodge a complaint with the TIO. The TIO also provided guidance for those unable to reach Optus, offering to forward complaints on the customer’s behalf.
Assisting with refunds for service downtime, compensation claims, and contractual disputes are among the TIO’s offered services to those affected by the outage.
The Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) has stepped forward with guidance for those affected by the Optus outage, advising customers to lodge a formal complaint with their telecommunications provider. The potential for refunds or compensation is dependent on the customer’s service agreement, ACMA points out.
The Authority clarified, “If the outage is only minor and short, it is unlikely you will receive any compensation or refund.” However, they raised the point that if the service interruption is significant, it could constitute a breach of the service agreement, depending on the specific terms and the reasons behind the outage. Certain contracts might include provisions for a refund or rebate, particularly in the case of major outages not caused by the customer.
ACMA highlighted that telecommunication companies might voluntarily offer compensation for the inconvenience caused by an outage, even if not contractually obliged. Under Australian consumer law, customers are afforded the option to seek a refund or rebate due to service disruptions.
ACMA further elaborated on the customer’s rights in the event of frequent or major service outages, including the ability to request a refund or rebate for the time without service, to cancel contracts without penalty, and to ask for compensation for any consequential losses.
Featured image credit: Kerem Gülen/DALL-E 3