YOU OWE US 2c
By MURRAY SIMPSON
A TWEED Heads widow has been hounded for months by telecommunications giant Telstra over the payment of a two cent bill.
Now Telstra are threatening to impose a penalty if the two cents is not paid immediately.
Hazel Bardsley of Banora Point was hit by her first two-cent bill in February.
Since then they've just kept coming and Telstra's tone has become increasingly shrill.
"I thought they were joking when the first bill came," said Mrs Bardsley, who is also ladies president of the Tweed Heads Bowls Club.
"That was until a second bill arrived saying it was overdue," she said.
"So I went to the post office and asked them how was I to pay it."
"They just laughed and said the bill should be rounded down to zero and not to worry about it."
But no-one counted on the tenacity of Telstra.
Last week a third bill arrived demanding immediate payment of two cents or face a late penalty.
"I don't know what to do," said Mrs Bardsley.
"I've got an old two cent coin here and thought of sending them that. But that's no longer legal tender.
"So I tried ringing them on their service number and, after waiting for an hour was finally told to ring during business hours."
"It's all so silly, but I don't want to get a bad name with them."
To add insult to injury none of the Telstra bills say what the two-cent account is for.
However the first account says the bill is made up of one cent owing plus one cent GST.
Mrs Bardsley said she had been an Optus customer for 15 years, but early this year took up a Telstra package which included a free phone.
"I've been very happy with the deal, but this persistent two cent bill is very annoying.
"I'm kept pretty busy with the bowls club and don't have much time to pursue this sort of thing."
Yesterday Telstra promised to investigate the matter.
Telstra's corporate affairs manager for Queensland Chris Zipf said clearly a glitch had slipped through the system.
"We send out hundreds of thousands of bills a year and sometimes something slips through the net.
"Normally such a trifling amount would be suppressed."
Mr Zipf said he was puzzled how such an anomaly as Mrs Bardsley's account should arise.
But he said it would be investigated.
"Meanwhile I am prepared to publicly apologise to Mrs Bardsley for the inconvenience."
"Mrs Bardsley should ring our service number on 131282 - then rip up the bill.
"A few of these bills have been popping up from time to time, and we've got a program under way to eliminate them."