By BELINDA SCOTT and MEL MARTIN
AUDREY McCurdy says her fight for a phone has gone beyond a joke.
In fact the Woolgoolga resident is so angry she says Telstra Countrywide regional manager Michael Sharpe had better stay well away from her.
Ms McCurdy and her daughter Maura Harris have been waiting to have a telephone installed at their Tramway Drive house since they moved in early May, only to discover their new home's phone connection was useless because Telstra had re-routed the existing line to another customer.
Optus and Telstra promised action by August 18, but that deadline went past on Friday.
Now the women have been told they probably won't have a telephone until September 29, nearly five months after they moved in.
They have to walk up the backyard to use their mobile phones and the only way they have been receiving emails is if Carolyn, Ms McCurdy's daughter in Albury, logs on to her mother's account, reads the emails over the mobile phone and emails dictated replies on her mother and sister's behalf. Now Carolyn's email access has been blocked.
Ms McCurdy said Ms Harris, who has severe asthma, was so stressed she was using a nebuliser four times a day and was really ill. "It's all stress related," Ms McCurdy said. "She says she feels so isolated, even though it's not an isolated spot."
"Optus told us Telstra said the workmen were not available to do the job. If Telstra hasn't got workers, they shouldn't be offering redundancies."
Mid North Coast general manager for Telstra Countrywide, Michael Sharpe, denied that manpower was the problem.
"The delay is purely because of the demand in the area and we'll be doing everything we need to meet our deadline or finish the job earlier.
"I would like to make it clear that this would have happened regardless of whether she was a Telstra retail customer or a wholesale customer (going through another provider). It's an infrastructure issue, not a wholesale versus retail issue.
"(Audrey) can go through her provider who can give her ac- cess to communications, like a mobile."
When told her mobile service did not work inside the house Mr Sharpe said that it was something to work out with her provider.
"If she was a Telstra customer, in this instance we would have provided her with a CDMA or satellite phone," he said.