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Wiring maintenance charges

Take a close look at your monthly bill for your landline or broadband connection and you may see a charge called "Wiring Maintenance Charge" or "Wiring & Maintenance Insurance".


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What's this for? It's like an insurance premium that covers the cost of a technician fixing your internal wiring and phone sockets if general wear and tear has caused a problem. Some telcos add it to your bill by default unless you tell them you don’t want it. And you can tell them not to add it - it's completely optional.

This charge may cost between $2.46 and $5.50 a month, depending on your telco. Some have separate charges for voice wiring (your phone) and broadband wiring, and some bundle them together. Over a year you could pay up to $66 for this "insurance". So is it worth it? You need to weigh up the potential cost of paying repairs yourself against the likelihood of having an internal wiring fault.

Your telco is responsible for repairs to the wires up to the first junction box on your property. If anything goes wrong up to this point, the company fixes it for free. But inside your house is your responsibility. A repairer could charge you a call-out fee plus labour charges plus the cost of any materials - that could soon add up. Telecom's minimum call-out fee is $69 - and that's if you already know the cause of the problem!

However, the chances of a fault occurring with the phone wiring inside your house are slight - unless your house suffers from damp or has very old phone wiring. Most faults occur outside your house and you don’t need a wiring-maintenance deal to deal with those. If you're moving, it may be worth paying the charge for the first few months at the new place in case problems appear.

There are limitations to what these wiring-maintenance deals cover. So check with your telco and read its terms and conditions before you decide whether to keep paying this optional charge.