Suburbs of Tasmania that were not a part of the first two stages of the National Broadband Network (NBN) roll-out may be susceptible to a door-to-door scam, according to consumer group Digital Tasmania.
The group has heard that a salesperson wearing a jacket bearing the logo of a telco is going from door to door in Hobart telling customers that they can only get on the NBN with that particular telco. The alleged salesperson also made errors about broadband speeds, and was unfamiliar with the local area, according to Digital Tasmania.
Although parts of South Hobart are included in stage 2 of the NBN roll-out, Digital Tasmania spokesperson Andrew Connor said that the salesperson had been visiting locations that would only be included in stage 3 of the roll-out. NBN Co has yet to announce when construction will begin for stage 3 locations and Connor said that the scam should not change the way people view the NBN in Tasmania.
"Consumers should not shun the NBN due to this incident, because there are always unscrupulous people who take advantage of large programs, especially when awareness is low," Connor said in a statement. "Announcements concerning agreements between the NBN Company and prominent telecommunications companies have taken place recently, but the fact is that NBN services will be available from many service providers, not just their current provider."
Connor advised that if Hobart residents receive an offer from such a salesperson, they should obtain the offer in writing, do not pay in cash or with a card upfront and check with Consumer Affairs.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said residents will know ahead of time when the NBN is coming to their area.
"NBN Co Limited, the company established to roll-out the NBN, will advise communities in advance of any construction what the time frame is for the delivery of NBN services. Residents and businesses will then have the opportunity to consider a range of retail providers of services and their different offers," Conroy said.
The minister advised residents to compare offers between the retail service providers offering commercial services in Tasmania and to keep their options open. NBN Co will also have a public information campaign to advise residents about the construction and roll-out of the NBN, he said.
"The campaign will provide information concerning the timing for provision of new services, the nature of the services and the action that consumers will need to take in order to receive services over the NBN," Conroy said.
NBN Co told ZDNet Australia that it had been made aware of the report, and agreed with Digital Tasmania's advice on how best to report it.
The Australian Telecommunications Users Group had already raised concerns last year that the NBN could become a source of scams for dodgy installers looking to sell new house wiring to uneducated users. There had been multiple reports circulating at the time that users would only get the benefits of the NBN if they shelled out for an expensive rewiring job.
Updated at 2:34pm, 15 July 2011: added comment from Conroy.