Helen Coonan to Sol Trujillo on claims against Telstra

Claims against Telstra

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Dear Mr Trujillo

Claims against Telstra

I refer to my previous correspondence to you on 20 July 2006, in relation to various claims against Telstra by a number of former customers and contractors of Telstra. These claims relate to grievances that in some cases occurred up to a decade or longer ago that remain, in the view of these claimants, unresolved.

Over the last 12 months I have received representations from more than 20 of these claimants. As a result, I have agreed to make a final representation to you on behalf of 12 of these parties. A brief summary of the background to each of these cases is listed in the attachment to this letter for your consideration.

The first group of claimants comprises contractors or former contractors of Telstra whose grievances relate to the discontinuation of their contracts with Telstra. The second group comprises seven customers or former customers of Telstra. As you are aware, many of the claimants allege that they have suffered both financial and emotional hardships as a result of failures in their telecommunications services.

The claims by these former customers and contractors vary considerably in nature and in the extent to which third parties have been involved, including the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, the Australian competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Communications and Media Authority or the courts.

In September 2005 I decided that it would be appropriate for an independent assessment of the various claims against Telstra to be conducted. I instructed my Department to conduct the assessment on the basis that the Government was not a party to the disputes. The assessment determined the status of the claims and whether all dispute resolution options had been explored. Nine claimants elected to take part in this process. The Chairman of Telstra, Donald McGauchie, wrote to me on 21 August 2006 to advise that Telstra considered my Department’s report to be an accurate reflection of the current status of the claims.

In July 2006 a copy of the Report of the Independent Assessment of Claims against Telstra that included an overview of the assessment process and findings was provided to Telstra. Telstra was very cooperative during this process and I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for this assistance.

I recently met with a number of the claimants. While I recognise that these claims are commercial disputes I have agreed to make a representation to you on behalf of all of the claimants for you to consider whether there is anything further Telstra can do to resolve them. I understand that for many people listed in the attachment their respective disputes with Telstra date back to around 15 years and some of these particular claimants have exhausted available processes for pursuing their claims, but they remain unhappy and disillusioned with the outcomes of their complaints.

Additionally, there are several claimants who have more recent disputes with Telstra where the circumstances appear to warrant further discussions between the parties in an endeavour to finalise these matters. In particular, the five former contractors listed in the attachment appear to have a reasonable basis for further consideration by Telstra of their respective claims. I undertook to request whether a meeting could be arranged with the group of five former contractors and the Telstra company secretary so that they can put forward their cases in more detail and in a manner more conducive to a possible resolution.

I am sure you would appreciate that it is not in the best interests of the claimants or Telstra for these matters to continue to fester. I would therefore be obliged if you would take such action as may be required to bring the disputes to finality. If my Department can provide information to assist the parties or Telstra to help achieve resolution, please let me know. I have advised the claimants who wished to be part of this representation that I have written to you.

Thank you for your attention to these matters.

Yours Sincerely

Helen Coonan


Helen Coonan

Helen Coonan – who has written posts on Bad Apples.