A new TELECOM excuse - the Privacy Act

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Donchano, Dec 12, 2010.

  1. Donchano

    Donchano Guest

    Speaking of the Privacy Act, I just had a problem with my landline.
    Over the past couple of weeks we noticed an increasing amount of
    static (crackling). Then, on Monday we also started noticing the
    tick-tick-tick sound of an electric fence.

    At just over an acre, we are the only residential property in a
    rural-coastal area made up of much larger lifestyle properties and a
    few working farms. So we've encountered this problem before.

    After going through all the self-tests and determining that it wasn't
    a problem with our phones, Telecom arranged for a tech and - long
    story short - he found a fault on our line and fixed it.

    For two days the phone worked perfectly. No static, no ticks. Then the
    ticking returned and I rang Telecom.

    This time the person at the other end told me that if the problem
    turned out to be caused by an electric fence, I'd be charged a fee.

    WHAT? Yes ... Telecom can't track electric fence problems because of
    the Privacy Act. WHAT? Yes ... the Privacy Act prohibits Telecom from
    entering private property without permission. So, according to this
    person, they can't track down the source of the fault - which could be
    "anywhere within a twenty kilometre radius."

    And THAT, folks, is just another example of how the Privacy Act is
    used by companies, government departments and health providers to
    avoid their responsibilities.

    Donchano, Dec 12, 2010
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  2. Donchano

    Gordon Guest

    I think there might be some other more important/relevant Acts which apply.

    The Privacy Act is about the collection of information, its use and its
    disclosure to whom.

    Telecom wish to plod around on private property to cure your fault. They
    need they property owners permission, or a court order to do so. Public and
    private space is a principle which goes way back. Near on 1000 years.

    As I undersatnd it, one can enter private property with a reasonable excuse,
    but if told to leave then you must do so.
    The fact that you seem to have believed what you were told is the point of
    Gordon, Dec 12, 2010
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  3. Donchano

    peterwn Guest

    Call 'Energy Safety' of Ministry of Commerce and see if they can help.
    If you can hear an electric fence controller 'ticking' in the phone it
    is likely to be improperly connected and could be a hazard. In
    particular an electric fence earth system (eg three warratas or
    similar one metre apart) should be well clear of any switchboard
    earthing connections. In particular the fence earth return must NOT be
    conneted directly or indirectly to a switchboad or other electrical
    system earth.

    Some years back a guy complained of getting intermittent electric
    shocks from his taps, etc. We disconnected the power from the 6 or so
    houses, sheds etc in the vicinity one at a time until the ticking in
    the phone stopped. Hit the 'jackpot' on the last one - the electric
    fence earth there was cross connected to the mains earth so the
    electric fence contoller was sending little 'belts' down the neutral
    wire of the local electricity network.
    peterwn, Dec 12, 2010
  4. Donchano

    Donchano Guest

    Au contraire. I didn't believe what I was told, but I did relay what I
    was told and label it for what it was.

    In fact, I was told that I'd be sent a brochure that explains the
    entire thing. The emphasis of that brochure - which arrived yesterday
    - is on electric fences on my property rather than someone else's.

    However, the following paragraph from the covering letter explains
    their policy regarding electric fences - which tallies with what I was
    told over the phone. What the cop-out doesn't mention is what the
    Telecom customer service rep said about the Privacy Act being the
    reason they can't investigate the source of the interference.

    "Telecom is responsible for maintaining the telephone network to a
    specific standard. If our network is tested and found to be at this
    standard, any interference cause from an electric fence is outside
    Telecom's responsibility."

    The paragraph then goes on to say that if Telecom sends a "Service
    Person" out to investigate my problem and it turns out not to be
    within "Telecom's responsibility" there will be a diagnostic charge of

    In other words, Telecom is using the Privacy Act to justify (aka
    excuse) not investigating the source of off-site electrical
    interference to a customer's phone lines. Which is exactly what I said
    in the first place.
    Donchano, Dec 16, 2010
  5. Donchano

    bugalugs Guest

    That 'standard service' does not include clicks/interference (from an
    electric fence or any other source) so they are not delivering to you
    the "standard service'. In other words it is a sub-standard service
    which they should correct at no cost to you,the subscriber.

    If our network is tested and found to be at this
    bugalugs, Dec 16, 2010
  6. Donchano

    Donchano Guest

    I agree. But what they're saying is that they can't trace the source
    of the electric fence fault because they would have to go on private
    property and the Privacy Act prohibits them from doing so.
    Donchano, Dec 16, 2010
  7. Donchano

    bugalugs Guest

    The electric fence and the Privacy Act are not your problem. Your
    problem is the sub-standard service and you shouldn't have to pay until
    they provide a service that meets their 'standard of service'. Just
    need to make sure it's not your electric fence.
    bugalugs, Dec 16, 2010
  8. Donchano

    Donchano Guest

    Well ... we don't have an electric fence. Neither do our immediate
    neighbours - even though they have properties much, much larger than

    OTOH interference to our telephone line by someone else's electric
    fence actually *is* our problem - particularly since Telecom is using
    the Privacy Act to excuse or justify their not being able to trace the

    But not paying my Telecom bill is not a practical option since we
    would get the same excuse regardless of our provider.
    Donchano, Dec 16, 2010
  9. I agree. But what they're saying is that they can't trace the source
    of the electric fence fault because they would have to go on private
    property and the Privacy Act prohibits them from doing so. [/QUOTE]

    But I am (fairly :) ) certain that telecom has the right to enter "private
    property" to tend to their network and do maintenance. Sounds to me like
    that covers it ... unless the fence is a long way away and strong. In that
    case, they could (if they wanted to :) ) "diagnose the fault" with a radio.
    That they send excuses instead of technicians says a lot about telecom to
    me ... but sadly, nothing new. :)
    Bruce Sinclair, Dec 20, 2010
  10. Donchano

    Sweetpea Guest

    I would suggest that Telecom has the right to request access to its
    network located on private property, and for that request to not be
    unreasonably declined.

    It's Telecom's property all the way up to the demarcation point.

    I agree that the privacy act is a very lame excuse for Telecon to not
    send a technician onsite to fix a fault.
    Sweetpea, Dec 20, 2010
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