Stephen Buge from the Cinemax Arthouse Cinemas in Kingscliff says the theatre could close down due to a disconnected phone line.
Stephen Buge from the Cinemax Arthouse Cinemas in Kingscliff says the theatre could close down due to a disconnected phone line. Nikki Todd

Kingscliff cinema on brink of closure due to telco bungle

A KINGSCLIFF cinema owner says the business is on the brink of closure due to a Telstra bungle which has seen the popular theatre go without a phone line for more than six weeks.

Cinemax Kingscliff owner Stephen Buge said the cinema was losing thousands of dollars in potential revenue after their phone line was cut without notice before Easter and has not been reconnected since.

He said the family run business, which has two theatres, was calling Telstra "three to four” times a day to fix the situation but were being told the problem was with NBN and there was nothing they could do.

Mr Buge said while the cinema does have a website with session times, the older generation relied on ringing up to find out what films were on and when.

And the problem hasn't just been limited to their phone service.

Mr Buge said the cinema had been receiving slow internet speeds and could not download new films as required, while the cinema's EFTPOS machine was also playing up.

He said the business could not even have their landline number forwarded to a mobile phone due to a lack of reception in the building, while the Telecommunications Ombudsman had also said there was "nothing they could do”.

Mr Buge said the situation was "mind-boggling” and had led to a loss of Easter and Mothers Day trade, while last Sunday, the cinema's 55-seat theatre filled just two people during a prime time screening of Green Book.

Stephen Buge at Kingscliff Cinemax Cinema.
Stephen Buge at Kingscliff Cinemax Cinema. John Gass /

"It is unbelievable, we're averaging about three or four phone calls a day to Telstra who say they'll get back to us but no one gets back to us,” he said.

"We can't get their phone number and when it gets too complicated they put it on to the supervisor who blames the NBN.

"I've said we are a customer of Telstra, not the NBN, but they just pass the buck. The way it's going we're going to be closed, we're not going to make it, we're going to be brought down by a phone.”

Mr Buge said the Cinemax chain had contacted the theatre asking about the dwindling ticket sales, with many sessions attended by just three or four people.

"It's killing our business, on Mothers Day we're normally packed, we do a high tea and we're booked out weeks in advance, this year we had 13 on Mothers Day after a disastrous Easter weekend,” he said.

"We have an older market that phone up and ask what time the movie starts, but it's saying the number is disconnected, after a few days they think we're closed and that's what's doing the damage to our business.

"We even have a sign at the front now saying we're open."

Mr Buge said a Telstra representative had told him on one occasion that he must have called the telco and disconnected the phone service, despite his inability to call on that line due to it already being disconnected.

"My daughter said to me, do you know how stupid that sounds?” he said.

"We're just not getting anywhere.”

A Telstra spokesperson told the Tweed Daily News they were "looking into what happened”.

"We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused,” they said.

"The matter is ongoing and we are continuing to work with the customer to resolve the issue as soon as possible.”

 



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