Several Pakenham arcade shop owners and neighbouring Main Street businesses have complained to Telstra after their phone lines became crossed.
Stores at both the Centre Court and Pakenham Plaza arcades were without a phone line and some also without internet or Eftpos during works for the National Broadband Network.
The disruption began on the morning of Saturday 26 March when Chemist Warehouse staff realised they were not receiving calls the day after they had just opened their new Main Street store.
Later a toy store received calls intended for the acupuncture clinic, while the clinic received calls meant for one of the hairdressing salons.
One of the other businesses affected was the law firm owned by Cardinia shire councillor Kate Lempriere’s husband.
She said the implications for a legal firm were particularly “outrageous” as the calls concerned private legal matters such as settlements.
“It’s just hell. You call up and you get put through to the Philippines,” she said.
“Offshore telemarketing for our major companies is crazy because there’s no duty of care.
“They told me it must be an issue with our modem but there are lines going in all different directions. It’s just madness.”
Pharmacist in charge at Chemist Warehouse Simon Mikhail said: “It was intermittent. I tried dialling the number and it just rang out.
“It’s a big deal. We receive five to six calls per hour and people calling in about prescriptions.
“We were unaware other stores have also been affected.”
DK Nails salon owner Khoa Nguyen said his Eftpos machine had been “really slow”.
“It took 10 to 15 minutes to process and then sometimes it would automatically decline.
“Some customers in a hurry were not happy that they had to go and withdraw money to pay in cash.”
A Centre Court arcade business owner who asked not to be named said that she was without a phone line for 48 hours between Tuesday and Thursday.
“People call up to check that we’re open and if the line was dialling out, then they would have assumed we were closed,” she said.
“I’m not sure how much money I’ve lost.”
A Telstra spokesperson said the company recently engaged contractors to convert cabling in the arcades in preparation for the NBN.
Some of this work involved rearranging the cabling in the street, the spokesperson said.
“Due to erroneous records of the cabling that fed into the arcade, some customers experienced a disruption to their service,” he said.
“After we became aware of the disruption we worked quickly to fix the issue.
“We have had a contractor visit every shop in the arcade to check with customers that their service was working. All services were confirmed to be back on Thursday morning.”
Telstra apologised for the disruption caused to customers.
The incident came shortly after Telstra customers were struck with the third nationwide network outage within the past two months.
Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.