Coffs pensioner is put on hold

DON'T switch your telephone carrier - you could be in for 'an extremely interesting time'.

That's the advice from Coffs Harbour resident Wal Pike, who for three months has been spending hours on the phone in an attempt to reclaim the four telephone features he lost when he switched carriers.

At one point the 80-year-old pensioner with a cracked kneecap resorted to taking his crutches and a chair to a public telephone box.

Since early December he has battled two telephone companies, Optus and Telstra; found himself with two separate accounts with Telstra; spent untold hours with more than 30 different Telstra employees in various countries including Australia; resorted to the telecommunications ombudsman with limited success and finally had his phone cut off after Telstra kept sending him bills for the 'phantom' account.

He said although it 'took an hour to get to speak to a living body' all the people he spoke to at Telstra seemed intelligent and reasonable people - when he could understand them - but somehow nothing ever seemed to be solved and he never seemed to get back to the same person.

“I think they have some technical difficulty in co-ordination going on,” he said.

“They cut me off on a Friday night, over a $91 bill I didn't owe even though they promised me repeatedly they had sorted it out - and Telstra has no service over the weekend - that's crook in the first place.

“Fortunately I'm a pensioner - it's a good job I've got the time.”

He said this week he had seen no sign of the $50 rebate promised by Telstra to compensate him for his trouble.

And what did Wal Pike want? His normal home phone with four features - message bank, call waiting, *10# and call control.

As of yesterday he had regained three features and was still waiting for call control to be restored.

Mr Pike said in December he was persuaded by an Optus salesman to switch carriers from Telstra to Optus because it would be cheaper.

He did so, but said he lost voice mail, so decided to switch back again.

Optus and Telstra told him they could not make the switch straight away and the changeover was finally made on January 2.

His new/old phone service had no features at all.

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