Concern over vulnerable Chidlow pensioner without landline in fire-risk area for weeks

Concern over vulnerable Chidlow pensioner without landline in fire-risk area for weeks

A HILLS pensioner who suffers from anaphylaxis and lives in a fire-prone area has been left without access to a phone line for weeks – with both iiNet and Telstra pointing the finger at each other.

Liz Appelt, who also runs the Chidlow Marsupial Hospital from her home, has been unable to use her phone line because of the amount of interference over the line since late December.

Desperate friends contacted the Gazette this week, saying repeated calls to service provider iiNet failed to achieve the urgent response hoped for by neighbours.

Ms Appelt, aged in her 70s, has run the animal rescue and rehabilitation centre for more than 26 years from her Chidlow property.

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She also suffers an anaphylactic reaction to ant bites and carries an adrenalin Epipen, but needs access to a phone line to contact the hospital if she is bitten.

Ms Appelt said she was reliant on her landline phone because mobile coverage was very poor and only limited cover was possible outside her property on a phone borrowed from a neighbour.

“I need a landline for the wildlife hospital and people keep trying to ring me, but when I pick up there is so much interference I can’t hear what they’re saying,” she said.

Despite informing the former WA-based telco of her predicament on December 28, Ms Appelt said the situation remained unresolved and to make matters worse, her latest phone bill arrived this week.

“On Monday, I received a text message from iiNet to say they can’t do anything until the 18th because they can’t get a maintenance guy out before then,” she said.

Several days before the message arrived, she said iiNet had hoped someone from Telstra “would sort it out”.

A Telstra spokesman said the line was owned by Telstra and because Ms Appelt was not a Telstra customer, iiNet was responsible for restoration of her service.

Ms Silversides said neighbours on the street with similar problems had their landlines serviced by Telstra, which sent technicians on December 27.

She said with her neighbours’ help, Ms Appelt would write a complaint to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

TPG took over iiNet last September amid reports of the telco becoming the second biggest broadband provider behind Telstra in Australia.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s annual report for 2015-16 showed iiNet recorded the biggest increase in new complaints of all Australia’s five major telecommunications service providers, up 48.2 per cent to 5698 complaints.

The Gazette contacted iiNet and TPG for comment.