Slingshot offers council flat residents $300 credit

Bea Cardno is 76 and legally blind, but has to pay extra for ultrafast broadband in her new council flat.
Kevin Stent/Fairfax NZ

Bea Cardno is 76 and legally blind, but has to pay extra for ultrafast broadband in her new council flat.

Elderly council flat residents who are being forced to pay for ultrafast broadband that they don't want have been offered a helping hand.

Wellington City Council's new Marshall Court Apartments in Miramar have been fitted out with fibre-optic cabling, and its mostly elderly and disabled residents are being charged up to $25 a month extra when all they want is a landline.

After hearing about the plight of residents,  Slingshot has offered them each a $300 credit if they use the company as their broadband provider.

"It's a tricky situation," Slingshot general manager Taryn Hamilton said. "Fibre broadband is a brilliant technology, but not one that everyone wants.

"In these UFB-only buildings, we can really only offer phone bundled with broadband."

He said Slingshot's broadband plans started at $74 per month, but if residents had no need for broadband, "then that's an additional $20 a month for something you aren't going to use".

"We hope that offering a healthy credit of $300 upfront will make things easier, and ease the budgetary strain."

The offer is open to all residents of Marshall Court, regardless of their current provider.

One 78-year-old resident, who gave his name only as  Brian, said the $300 credit would be a big help.

"It would help out big time, especially with the phone bill, that's for sure. It's a big increase, 20 bucks a month, people don't think that, but it is."

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Slingshot's intervention comes after it was contacted by Consumer NZ, in response to a Dominion Post story on Thursday.

"I thought there must be something we could do to help these people, because it's such an unusual situation, and it may happen elsewhere, but in the meantime we could try to help," Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said.

"I thought I'd ring a potentially trusted business and see if they could help out, and they have come to the party.

"When we see something like this, which is so unfair and when we can perhaps act as an intermediary and sort something out really quickly, then it's a good day's work."

Spark spokeswoman Lucy Fullarton said the company intended to launch a service within the next few weeks that would offer people on the fibre-optic UFB network the equivalent of a traditional phone-only landline service at a "comparable cost" to a standard phone line rental. 

 - The Dominion Post

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