Millions of Optus customers across Australia experienced a blackout on Wednesday, businesses across the nation are demanding compensation for their losses.
On Wednesday, over 10 million Optus customers across Australia were plunged back into the dark ages as internet and phone services experienced outages for 14 hours from 4am right through to the evening. As of the following day, Optus has offered no detailed explanation for the outage, beyond claiming it was caused by a technical network fault.
The issue also affected other providers using the Optus network, including Amaysim, Vaya, Aussie Broadband, Moose Mobile, Coles Mobile, Spintel, Southern Phone, Gomo and Dodo Mobile.
Businesses across Australia were affected, with POS systems down and so many venues having gone cashless, they were forced to get creative if they wanted to continue to stay open. Some asked customers to use PayID to transfer money, others turned to good will and took down names.
National Retail Association director Rob Godwin expressed the pressures felt by businesses across the nation.“This is costing businesses thousands of dollars in sales that they are now in dire need of given yesterday’s rate hike,” he said.
The government will be conducting a review into the blackout led by The Australian Communications and Media Authority who is urging small businesses to get in contact with Optus to discuss options for compensation.
“What we would encourage you to do is contact Optus and … help them understand what the impact was on them and their earnings,” Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Cynthia Gebert said.
“That’s the sort of thing that we think you need to tell Optus so they get a sense of what sort of compensation might be the right thing to do for your circumstances.”
Ms Gebert said the scale of the outage was unacceptable as it impacted emergency services and hospitals in addition to small businesses and transport services.
Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said connectivity was “absolutely essential” for consumers and businesses.
With last year’s cyber hacks that saw 10 million Optus customer’s data stolen and distributed on the dark web, many are questioning whether Wednesday’s blackout was caused by hackers. Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin has denied that theory but with customer confidence in the brand still dwindling a year on, Optus’ future as a leading telecom provider is looking grim. Hundreds of customers flocked to Optus stores yesterday, with staff forced to close their doors at more than one location. Other network providers were equally overwhelmed as the crowds turned to them, wanting to switch providers through the debacle.
When asked whether Optus would be compensating customers for the losses throughout the blackout, Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin did not confirm the network provider would do so but said she is working on ways to reward customers for their patience during the debacle.
‘We’re now starting to think about ways in which we can thank our customers for their patience as we work through the outage today and reward them for their loyalty to Optus,” she told ABC News on Wednesday.
“We will definitely consider every avenue as we turn our attention, now that services are restored, to how we work with our customers.”