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Small business demands financial redress for Optus outage


Ombudsman damns the telco’s treatment of the sector as “shabby” and “inadequate”.

By Philip King 9 minute read

The small business ombudsman has slammed Optus for its “shabby” treatment of the sector in the wake of this week’s outage and demanded proper compensation.

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson said telecommunications was a vital service and its absence came at significant economic cost.

Many retailers and small businesses were reportedly left unable to process payments and lost a day’s business due to the outage, as the entire network went down.

“The response by Optus is inadequate and not sufficiently dealt with by an offer of extra data,” Mr Billson said.

“Small businesses rely on telecommunications as an essential service, but they have been poorly served by Optus throughout this event and some have suffered a significant economic cost.

“We reject suggestions by Optus that the loss for a small business is $2 a day. This is what Optus charges for their services, not what the consequences and loss of that service has cost small businesses in lost income and customers.”

He said Optus needed to come up with compensation that recognised the true cost of its “technical fault”.

“More needs to be done to acknowledge this impact on the livelihoods of our small and family businesses with a more tailored response,” Mr Billson said.

“Australia’s 2.5 million small businesses provide jobs for 5.1 million people and employ 42 per cent of all apprentices and trainees in training – nearly double the amount supported by a big business.

“They deserve respect and not to be treated in such a shabby way by Optus.”

The federal communications minister has launched an inquiry into the event, which caused massive disruption to phone and internet services on Wednesday.

Yesterday Optus offered to make 200 gigabytes of data available to customers in recompense for the outage but ASBFEO joins a growing chorus of business groups calling for more compensation.

Analysts predict rivals Telstra and TPG will pick up disgruntled Optus customers, including some large government contracts, as the company this week reported a decline in half-year earnings.



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Philip King

Philip King


Philip King is editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Philip joined the titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience from a variety of roles at The Australian national broadsheet daily, most recently as motoring editor. His background also takes in spells on diverse consumer and trade magazines.

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