Dear Lifehacker, I'm currently having internet problems with Optus and the technician is only able to come later next week. As such, I'll be out of service for around nine days, if not more. (Yeah, yeah: first world problems.) So my question is: am I entitled to get some kind of credit for the time I have "lost" on my contract? Also, if I'm on Optus for my mobile and use it for tethering, should I be able to credit the data usage over this time? Thanks, David in Bondi.
Broken LAN cable picture from Shutterstock
A life without internet is a life not worth living! So we feel your pain.
If this happened to your landline telephone service, you would be protected by the Customer Service Guarantee (CSG), a legal standard that ensures telcos repairs the fault in a timely manner or offer appropriate compensation for any inconvenience caused.
Unfortunately, because it appears we are living in the Stone Age here in Australia, the CSG does not apply to fixed-line or mobile internet. The good news is, with all goods and services, your internet connection is covered by the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
The first step to seeking compensation for your internet downtime is to approach your internet service provider, in this case Optus, to make a complaint and to see if they can provide you with credit onto your account for the inconvenience. Your telco may offer you, say, a month's free access as a goodwill gesture.
If they don't do anything, then by all means escalate the issue to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), an alternative dispute resolution service for the telco industry.
The TIO is essentially a middle man for your dispute with your telco. It can use the ACL to determine reasonable steps the telco can take to resolve the complaint which may involve compensation.
"Most telcos will take those steps but if they don't resolve it in line with our recommendation we can progress the complaint further," a TIO spokesperson told Lifehacker Australia. "This can result in a legally binding determination by the Ombudsman."
We also approached Optus to ask what its standard process is when it comes to compensating users for service outages but was not provided an official response at the time of publication.
There are other factors to consider. If your telco is reselling the internet line of another provider, then it complicates the issue as to who is responsible for your internet connection.
If you're getting nowhere with your telco, you might want to go through the social media route. Most telcos in Australia have a robust social media presence so a complaint made to their Facebook page or Twitter account may be able to fast track complaint. Good luck!
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