DISCONNECTED: Lack of landlines a 'ticking time bomb'

Gateway Lifestyle Resort residents Kay Martin, Sue Jacquin, Max Juett, Susan Keeling and Dot and Pat Chorley have been forced to use their mobile phones while waiting months for their landlines to be connected.
Gateway Lifestyle Resort residents Kay Martin, Sue Jacquin, Max Juett, Susan Keeling and Dot and Pat Chorley have been forced to use their mobile phones while waiting months for their landlines to be connected. Tim Howard

THE LACK of landline phone connections to a group of units at a Grafton lifestyle resort is a life and death problem.

A group of new residents at the Grafton Gateway Lifestyle Resort have been battling resort management to have landlines installed at their units since they began moving into the buildings in June last year.

For Susan Keeling and her partner Derrick the mobile service at the village has been patchy, so the lack of a reliable phone could be fatal.

"He's got two aneurysms," Ms Keeling said. "He's like a ticking time bomb.

"If one bursts in the night and we can't get help, it's all over. It scares me what could happen."

The situation affects residents who have bought into the resort's latest development, a two-stage, 22-unit retirement village which began selling last year.

Kay Martin moved in first, in July last year, and has been trying to get a phone connected ever since.

Every month since then, more units have been sold and each time the new residents find they cannot have a landline connected.

One couple, Pat and Dot Chorley, who moved to the village from Wooli in November, find themselves in a bizarre situation.

They have a phone number and a phone bill, but no phone service.

Mrs Chorley said when she phoned Telstra she was told it was called a move so they put her account on hold.

"It means we're still being charged for a phone number for Wooli we no longer have so each month I have to call Telstra.

"It can take anything up to an hour on the phone so they can take the $58 off the account."

So far the Chorleys have paid Telstra $176 and have not made a single phone call on their new number.

Mrs Martin is even more out of pocket, estimating she has paid $800 for wireless internet service she would have received at a fraction of the price as an ADSL connection on a landline.

This group of residents is not just whingeing about the lack of service. They have questioned Gateway Village management and Telstra about the problem, taken their story to their local member Chris Gulaptis and also the Telecommunications Ombudsman, but without any success.

Telstra has appointed case managers for some of the couples to individually handle the complaints.

"We just get the same old story," Ms Keeling said. "Telstra says it's in the hands of the developer and the developer says it's up to Telstra."

They use expressions like: "it depends who you speak to" and "trying to pull the wool over our eyes" when they ask for an explanation of the delays.

Mr Chorley said he spoke to workers inspecting some of the phone line pits last month.

"One of the workers told me they had just inspected what had been in the pits and it was not going to work," he said.

The residents love the village lifestyle and cannot speak highly enough of the managers, Karen and Bruce Martin.

"We don't want to say anything against them," Ms Keeling said. "They're lovely people. It seems to be coming from people higher up than them."

The higher echelons of Gateway Lifestyle said the problem is limited to just seven units of 115 in the village.

"Gateway Lifestyle is working with Telstra to ensure the landlines will be installed at a small number of the 115 homes at the Gateway Lifestyle community in Grafton." Gateway spokeswoman Leanne Nolan said.

"This affects seven recently completed homes and our priority is to ensure residents have adequate access to communication.

"As a temporary measure, we have been advised that Telstra has provided some of the affected residents with mobile phones and portable internet connections as an interim step.

"Gateway Lifestyle will continue to work with the affected residents and Telstra and keep residents up to date as to the timing and the progress of the installation of the Telstra connections."

Telstra denied it has been working closely with the developer.

"We were unable to provide any fixed line services to the development until required infrastructure had been built by the supplier selected by the developer," a spokeswoman said.

"Now that the infrastructure work is completed, we can get on with the job of designing and installing cables and connecting customers at the development.

"Unfortunately for these customers, this will take around five more weeks to complete."

Topics:  communication gateway lifestyle resort grafton landline phones phone line retirement village telstra

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