Telstra says sorry

In the face of a brewing class action, Telstra has apologised to its 35,000 ADSL users and has offered them a refund of subscription fees, in a move that will cost the telco millions.

Telstra zapped out the news to its ADSL users just before midnight Tuesday night, informing them that "in recognition of the recent problems with the ADSL service, and as a goodwill gesture, we wish to offer you an ex-gratia credit of 100 percent of your July monthly recurring charges," adding that the rebate would apply to BigPond ADSL customers who had signed up before 24th July 2001.

The email went on to say that "as a gesture of gratitude for [their] continued loyalty", BigPond's ADSL customers would also received 50 percent credit off their monthly plan fee for August and September.

A similar initiative is also being extended to Telstra's wholesale broadband customers, according to Telstra spokesperson, Michael Herskope.

"While I am not privy to the exact content of any offer, my understanding is that there has been a gesture by Telstra wholesale to its customers," he said.

Less fortunate are those customers who got fed up with the recent disruptions and chose to close their accounts in July. A FAQ on the credit initiative outlines that these users are not eligible for payment.

Telstra also highlighted that the quality of service has been largely due to "third party supplied equipment" and added that it's "terms and conditions do not guarantee a fault free service."

Herskope denied claims that the move was aimed at cajoling users who may be considering taking part in a class action against the telco.

"It's in no way linked to any threat of class action," he said. "This is about listening to customers. This is about providing a gesture of our gratitude to customers who have been with us through a difficult period."

The Sydney lawyer behind the proposed class action, Michael King, was adamant that he would continue to pursue the matter, regardless of Telstra's latest move.

"This is inadequate compensation for residential users, but it is some compensation. But it does nothing for business," he said.

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