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Warning issued to One.Tel customers

The predatory nature of Telstra and Optus has prompted industry bodies to warn One.Tel customers not to act impulsively when transferring their telecommunications services.

SYDNEY (ZDNet Australia)--The predatory nature of Telstra and Optus has prompted industry bodies to warn One.Tel customers not to act impulsively when transferring their telecommunications services.

Advise to the insolvent telco's clients comes on the back of Optus's move to pull the plug on its network coverage to 250,000 One.Tel mobile customers.

Australia's second largest telco has sent SMS messages to One.Tel's clients advising them that mobile services are no longer being provided by One.Tel and that Optus is now providing them as an interim measure.

Not one to miss out on an opportunity, Optus supplemented SMS messages with telephone, fax and media advertising that offered customers the option to remain connected and continue to use their existing mobile numbers under the Optus brand.

Customers now have less than a week to decide before services are terminated.

"We are prepared to throw the One.Tel customers a lifeline -- but we need to talk to them about what arrangements suits them best," Optus MD, mobiles, Paul O'Sullivan, said

Industry giant Telstra has also taken advantage of One.Tel's fall from grace, with full-page advertisements appearing in the weekend press encouraging One.Tel customers to seek assistance from Telstra when "reviewing" their Internet and mobile connections.

Administrators say the advertisement, which invites customers to ring a special hotline number to talk over their options, did not mark the "final blow" for One.Tel. One.tel customers have been urged "not to act impulsively" by the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

"Consumers should look very carefully at their options and make an informed choice, they should not act impulsively," the ACA's Allan Horsley said.

Customers have been advised to find out if there is an early termination fee payable under their One.Tel contract.

Furthermore, One.Tel clients need to find out what happens to a subsidised handset under a One.Tel contract and whether they can in fact keep their existing mobile number.

ACCC acting chair, Rod Shogren, advises One.Tel customers to "keep detailed notes of any conversations, including the name of the person to whom they speak".

"Customers contemplating a change in provider should not make a new commitment without full knowledge of their current commitments, an understanding of the One.Tel situation and a full appreciation of the conditions of any new contract," Shogren said.

One.Tel has advised that customers can call 1300 300 370 to resolve customer queries.

In other news, the Communications and Public Sector Union (CPSU) is taking One.Tel to the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) today - following revelations that its 1400 workers will not receive all worker entitlements.

The CPSU is considering taking direct action against former One.Tel founders Brad Keeling and Jodie Rich to retrieve the AU$7.5 million bonuses they each paid themselves last year in order to meet staff payments.