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[BF] Optus Waiving Mobile Bills for Dec/Jan for Volunteer Firefighters

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Optus is matching Telstra's offer of waiving mobile phone bill fees for volunteer firefighters, for the months of December and January.

Volunteer firefighters can use the Optus hotline - 1300 301 671 - to arrange the waiver.

Apologies for linking to a new story only, I'm searching for an official announcement by Optus but it's not easy to find. I'll post it here as soon as I can find one. See the edit below, but for the curious this is the original article I linked to. Ozbargainer Now Gone also posted a link to another news story in the Telstra thread.

Edit 1: Okay, due to the lack of an official announcement or other information I rang the number above and asked them what they need. This is what they told me:

  • This is national and applies to all States and Territories.
  • Ring the hotline above to register.
  • You need to quote an official identifier from the fire service you're a volunteer with: badge ID, employee number, etc. (I asked if it extends to other volunteer organisations but it currently only applies to fire services. Hopefully they'll change this.)
  • Pay your Dec & Jan bills as normal.
  • Optus will collate all information and provide a credit to your bill in Feb.

Edit 2: Finally…something official from Optus which I've now made the primary link in the deal. Strangely, it's not up on their media page yet, I scraped this from their Twitter feed. It also doesn't shed any more light on the subject than what we already know, but at least it's coming direct from them.


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  • +16 votes

    In other good news, NBN Co sent one of their Road Muster trucks to Batemans Bay to assist with Internet access to affected residents.

  • +11 votes

    Their PR department must have seen the negative Optus comments on the Ozbargain Telstra post.

    • +11 votes

      Yeh lol. Because optus fat cats really care about the little man. Its all PR!

      • +24 votes

        None of them care, absolutely none. Just cheap stunts for points. Same crap as with woollies. If they didn't get caught with all that stealing they wouldn't bother with any so called charity neither. They will probably also make a big fake "welcome back home heroes" sausage sizzle party when all the fires are over lol. What has it all come to, just to us people helping each other however we can, nothing from the government, nothing from corporate businesses.

        • +15 votes

          To be totally honest, I don't think it's the responsibility of a private company especially with overseas shareholders to be looking after the Australian public - it's the job of our government to use the many taxes we pay to step up and take control in times of natural disasters.

          I am happy Optus is stepping up and waiving these bills, regardless of the motivation.

          •  

            @brokeunikid: That would involve the government taxing their political donors, which the LNP would never do, less it affect their kickbacks and board positions when leaving politics.

      • -3 votes

        Ofc no doubt.

        If they had come out and been like "here's 6 months" ok now we're talking

        • +5 votes

          Lets not forget the mental + physical strain all this will have on them. This will lead to increased medical bills. Perhaps they should be given discount/free medical services. Much like military personal can come home with ptsd, im sure seeing entire communities decimated, people, animals etc will leave a heavy toll on some people.

      • +1 vote

        Probably accounting reasons too! Being able to wipe out a portion of profits because "we waived the telephone bill for fire fighters"

        •  

          Theres always a financial incentive, mostly to reduce paying taxes, which large corporates are professionals at doing so. Not sure why the ozmoron bandwagon negged you.

  •  

    I wonder if this is just for NSW or all of the country? Also how do they know who is a volunteer and who isn't? I am in WA and a volunteer but I don't think there is any real way I can prove it?

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      Yeah me too. Wondering the same

      • +1 vote

        That's why I'm trying to find an official Optus announcement with some real details. Many volunteer organisations will have some sort of registration so if you're part of the WA fire services then chances are good you'll be able to get something akin to an employee number to quote. The best you can do right now is ring the number quoted above and ask Optus about it.

        Edit: see above, I rang the number and got as much info as I could.

        • +1 vote

          I do have a volunteer number but I doubt they can verify it. Either way awesome job linking this and if you do find out more info I will keep an eye on it. Thankyou :)

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            @Piccolo: do you have any kind of identification card?

            • +1 vote

              @k-rokfm: No I just contacted the number and provided them my volunteer number and said I was in WA and that was it. Super easy and super friendly Optus staff member.

              • +2 votes

                @Piccolo: Interesting. The DFES ID numbers are used for all DFES volunteers with no way to distinguish them. The next number is just issued as a new volunteer joins from whichever service. It's likely that a lot of this will be being done on trust, I hope it's not going to be abused. Much as I'd like free phone bills, being in SES is waaay further down than the firies in the deserving stakes.

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                  @banana365: Thats a very good point. While I totally agree it shouldn't be abused I do believe if you are volunteering your time to the fires (no matter what department) it should be included but I am not Optus sadly. SES deserve it just as much. We really need the comms that they provide.

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      I'm thinking of becoming a volunteer in NSW.
      Can you tell me how it works and if it's possible to do it with a full time job?

      •  

        I can't say for NSW but for WA I am a fulltime worker (most are in my brigade or FIFO). What I did was go down to the Fire Station and enquire if they are taking more volunteers or not. They put you through the training and it is a very slow process (9 months for me but can be longer depending on the courses running) before you will go to a fire I expect.

      • +4 votes

        If it's the RFS then go to their web site here for details. There will be a fair amount of training provided and initially you'll need to be able to commit to a lot of time away from your family, if you have one. But, I can say from personal experience it's definitely worth it; you'll learn a lot about yourself and forge some great relationships if you can stick with it.

        Yes, you can do it with a fulltime job (I did for a number of years) but you do need an understanding employer. Talk to them first and discuss what your intentions are and how much support they're prepared to give you, with the understanding that you may disappear at short notice for lengthy periods. A lot of employers are now starting to recognise their volunteer staff and will offer a number of leave days, this is something you'll need to find out. I also highly recommend getting something in writing from them, especially if it's a large company, to ensure you're covered from all angles.

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    If Optus waived the bill for emergency services they'd one up Telstra

    • +24 votes

      Speaking as a former volunteer myself, it's a sad fact that when you've been away from your regular job for days on end you start to worry about how you're going to pay the bills. As much as some people are saying this is largely a PR stunt, it does help to marginally relieve some of the stress associated with volunteering.

      • +12 votes

        +1 whether this is a PR stunt or not, remember that the overwhelming majority of our countries firefighters are volunteers. All of these people have bills that are stacking up, placing not only emotional stress on families but growing financial pressure. The Govt has legislation that allows them to aid firefighters financially in a state of emergency but they have yet to activate this. It's great to see businesses step up and do their part where the govt. isn't - good old Aussie spirit.

  • +9 votes

    Good on them. Whether it's a PR stunt or not, it's something.
    Never understand when people go full r/choosingbeggars when a company/person offers something for free to a group or cause.

  • +1 vote

    Good news for our Fireys.

  •  

    Come on Vodafone, you can do it !

    • +1 vote

      Do they even have coverage in the impacted areas? I just checked Mallacoota and surrounds for example, and there is only Telstra and Optus….

      My assumption is that if your with Voda in Mallacoota, you will be roaming on the Optus 3G network, if you have enabled roaming on your phone.
      (You should see VODAFONE AU-R, or something similar on your screen. The -R represents roaming)

      I hope Voda do waive fees, but not sure they will not having their own infrastructure in the area.

      https://www.rfnsa.com.au/site-list?nearby_latitude=&nearby_l...

  •  

    It's a shame that none of this is done from a place of sincerity.

    These companies are just doing it as a PR stunt. (profanity) capitalism.

    •  

      Do you mean that they should give away free sims when there isn’t bushfires?

      • +1 vote

        nah I just mean the intention behind it should be genuine and not for the purpose of self-gain.
        Not sure how this could be achieved. I don't have the answers i'm just talking out loud.

    • +5 votes

      Either way seems like you would complain right? If Optus did nothing, you'd complain, Optus did something, you complained. Lose/Lose for Optus according to you

    • +2 votes

      Why does it matter what the intention is, if at the end of the day it helps people in need?
      Basically every single action a corporation does, is with an end goal of making more money.

      Other examples; I've seen videos of people buying food for homeless guys and filming themselves giving it to them.
      These people filmed themselves to get internet points, but at the end of the day, that homeless person still got food he otherwise wouldn't have.

      So what if people are vain or companies only care about their image? End of the day fire fighters are being helped.

  • +1 vote

    Are they are any tax benefits to the company? PR yes

  •  

    Ahhh, the "we dun goofed, let's try a tactic one of our competitors used because they got positive feedback" approach.

    Yes it's good that they are waiving bills like Telstra but when you're not the first mover, would it be too hard to extend it to other volunteers (not all volunteers helping are firefighters).

    They haven't given this a shred of originality and only a moment's thought.

    •  

      Someone's a good idea is a good idea, doesn't need to be upped. As a volunteer using Optus (who have horrible coverage in any remote area or Bushland) this makes me feel like I'm not missing out

      •  

        That's why I said it was good that they are, but I hope they don't expect the same amount of PR points lol.
        Not saying Telstra's was exactly selfless, but at least they thought of it.

        A carrier getting customers to donate excess data while not being known for their rural or regional coverage? Props to them for trying to improve it, but Telstra still covers a lot more.

  • -1 vote

    What's the minimum amount you need to volunteer to qualify?

    •  

      If you have a member ID, then you qualify for this promotion.
      If you don't have an ID then you haven't met the requirements.

  •  

    Western Australia SES
    Can confirm I had my Dec + Jan phone bill waived. They did only one phone and not my internet or secondary phone account.

    I did not mention I was SES but instead said I was a DFES Volunteer. The operator was most interested in the "volunteer" and department I worked for.

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