Havoc as Optus customers left stranded

Chaos: Rosedale Pharmacy's Deana McQuillen had a hectic time trying to navigate the recent Optus outage. Photograph: Stefan Bradley



BUSINESSES that don’t rely on the Optus network could largely weather the storm after the company’s telecommunications services went down on Wednesday, November 8, for about 13 hours. However, as Rosedale Pharmacy found out, a business may be on Telstra and Vodafone, but if their customers use Optus, it can still cause major disruption.

Pharmacy Assistant at Rosedale Pharmacy, Deana McQuillen, told the Express the business was trying to catch up from the chaos.

“So we weren’t affected business-wise because our internet is with Telstra, but unfortunately for our customers who were with Optus, they couldn’t pay for their prescriptions,” Ms McQuillen said.

“They couldn’t load up a script because doctors send an e-script (electronic prescription) to your mobile phone … and you have to download it over the internet, and they couldn’t even do that because of no service.

“So people were going without their medications and couldn’t ring their doctors.”

The majority of businesses on Prince Street in Rosedale that the newspaper spoke to were not using Optus, so customers could walk in and make purchases as usual.

Rosedale Pharmacy however, spent the day of the outage trying to assist the best they could by attempting to ‘hotspot’ Optus-affected customers to the staff members’ own non-Optus-connected smartphones to use the internet in order to receive their scripts.

Of course, staff members who had a phone connected to Optus themselves were unable to assist in this way.

The Optus outage was largely resolved that evening, meaning some customers would have to return to the pharmacy the very next day for their scripts.

“It was quite bad; we are trying to slowly catch up,” Ms McQuillen said.

“A lot of things we’re having to order, so (customers are) having to wait an extra day for specific medications or special medications.”

Ms McQuillen said the delays and potential losses go further than pharmacies and their in-store customers.

“I feel for all the businesses in places like Rosedale, Heyfield and the surrounding areas. A lot of our customers live in Traralgon, and we do Webster packing for people,” she said.

“And we do delivery, so we couldn’t even contact hospitals to get new prescriptions or get doctors their prescriptions.

“We couldn’t get a hold of our delivery patients – we couldn’t get a hold of anybody, and they couldn’t get a hold of us.

“They weren’t sure if their deliveries were coming or not. So it was a bit of a mess.”

Ms McQuillen praised Rosedale Pharmacy customers for their cooperation.

“They didn’t take it out on any of us because we’re trying to help them out,” she said.

“They were very appreciative of it, and we do have a good community here.

“We could still sell as normal except for Optus customers who couldn’t buy anything from us. It just goes to show, what are we going to do if we end up with a cashless society?”

Unfortunate: Rosedale Pharmacy on Prince Street.