Walcha’s business community is fuming after it took two weeks for the town’s internet to be restored after a storm, leaving most businesses without eftpos during the Christmas period.
While Telstra has repaired the tower, which was damaged on December 20, the signal remains patchy and weak – and business owners remain frustrated.
Walcha mayor Eric Noakes was “appalled” it took Telstra 13 days to send someone to have a look at the problem.
“It took a damn long time to get started,” Cr Noakes said.
“It’s disappointing. I know it’s the Christmas period, but it shouldn’t take that long.
“In this day and age, for there to be no coverage for this amount of time is unacceptable.
“Once they got here, it didn’t take them that long to fix it.”
A Telstra spokesperson said while 4G mobile service was restored quickly, the 3G tower was a more difficult job and wasn’t repaired until 5pm on Wednesday.
“The interference and outage is due to a complex hardware fault, which is why the repair is taking longer than expected,” the spokeperson said.
“We apologise to our customers. We hope to have 3G services restored as quickly as possible.”
Cafe Amor owner David Budd said most of the town ran on 3G and summed the situation up in two words: “It sucks”.
“I understand the storm was beyond Telstra’s control, but to take bloody two weeks to fix it is a joke in the 21st century,” Mr Budd said.
“I’ve been lucky because I found out how to switch it over to my personal Wi-Fi, but otherwise I would have gone right through the Christmas period with no eftpos.
“Everyone has been coming in and asking if they can pay on card, because no one else has eftpos.”
New England Hotel-Motel owner Desiree Denniss also managed to switch her eftpos over to her personal Wi-Fi after some difficulty.
“It was an effort and a half to get everything done, and our ATM still doesn’t work,” she said.
“It’s hard when you’ve got gambling in a pub and you can’t cash out any money.”
Ms Denniss she was lucky compared to the Walcha Chinese Restaurant.
“They haven’t had any eftpos for the last two weeks, and they’ve had a big downturn in takings,” she said.
Walcha isn’t the only town in the region to suffer – Werris Creek was left without service for a couple of weeks, after an “exchange fault” wasn’t identified and repaired until after Christmas.