Some 10,000 long-standing phone numbers of senior citizens cannot be recovered, Vocus says. Photo: Virginia StarUp to ten thousand pensioners across the country are in a communication black hole after their home phone lines were terminated on Wednesday.
ONEseniors, the company that specialises in services for people over 55, was one of three companies that went into administration on May 2.
Telecommunication provider Vocus, which purchased the ONEsenior customer base after it went into administration, said on Wednesday afternoon that new receivers have terminated supply arrangements with Telstra.
The supply arrangement with Telstra was initially suspended on May 2 and Wednesday’s termination means the phone numbers of 10,000 pensioners have been lost and cannot be recovered or ported to a new provider, a Vocus spokeswoman said.
“Any new services with a new supplier will require a new number,” she said.
The news heightened the anxiety of people whose elderly relatives relied on ONEseniors to keep in touch and many took to the company’s still-active Facebook page to voice their anger.
“My poor mother has been battling constantly with providers to keep her number,” one wrote.
“Some of the elderly have had those numbers for years and if located in isolated areas there is limited to no availability at the exchanges for new numbers.”
The termination also means pensioners who had their internet connected through their landline have also lost their service.
Leslie Newman, a pensioner from Ascot Vale in Melbourne’s north-west, just reconnected with another provider after his ONEseniors service stopped working.
“I was extremely angry,” the 55-year-old said.
“Nobody knew what was going on and it was pretty poor for even the government or telecommunications authority to not let anyone know what was happening. We were left totally in the dark.”
A statement on theTelecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s website said that it had received a “large volume of calls” of complaints.
A Vocus spokeswoman said pensioners should sign up with a new supplier.
“We understand their frustration, but we’ve done everything in our power to make this as smooth as possible,” she said.
OneTelecom is the company name for ONEseniors and was one of three companies, along with iBoss International and AsiaPac Communications, to have gone into administration.
Both OneTelecom and iBoss were brands of telecommunications wholesaler ispONE, which went into administration in August last year following court cases with Telstra and Kogan Mobile.
ispONE was then acquired by Conec2, of which AsiaPac is a subsidiary.
UPDATE: And in bizarre twist, Fairfax Media has found secure creditor that appointed receivers Australasian New Energy Group is itself a holding company of Conec2, who itself went into administration last week.
While Vocus Communications asserts the receivers terminated supply arrangements with Telstra, receivers at PKF Lawler said they were not taking any role in the operation of OneTelecom as its assets has already been sold off by administrators Ferrier Hodgson.
Representatives from Australasian New Energy Group and Ferrier Hodgson did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.
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