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May 14, 2007 | by  | in News | [ssba]

More money found on psychic hotline bill

‘Not our fault’, say hotline owners

New information has come to light about VUWSA’s recent ‘Opiegate’ scandal, where former Acting Women’s Rights Officer Clelia Opie made $4176.84 worth of phone calls to psychic hotlines before being discovered.

Salient can now reveal that another $1600 worth of calls have been discovered on VUWSA’s phone account, bringing the total of the calls to nearly $6000.

Phone records leaked to Salient reveal the extent of the psychic hotline calls during the month of March, where Opie made at least 80 calls to almost 20 different 0900 numbers between the 15th and 24th, from the phones in the Women’s Room, VUWSA Workroom and Education Vice-President Joel Cosgrove’s office. On March 23 alone, Opie made 42 phone calls from the Women’s Room line to psychic and tarot hotlines.

She called one number, ‘Personal Psychic Penline’, nine times consecutively in the space of an hour and a half, with the calls totaling $420.75.

Salient contacted Infoline Australia, the Australian-based company behind the hotline. Company spokesperson Matthew Smith told Salient that Telecom and the University were to blame, rather than his company, saying it would be “very uneducated” for the University or VUWSA to not know about these calls.

“I think really it does unfortunately rest on the shoulders of the people who are doing the accounts and so forth. I mean you can’t stop people from doing things unless you have things in place to stop them. “[Telecom] have a system in place that obviously, if too many calls are made, they’ll contact the person, so you should start there to find out how they were able to clock up this amount of calls. At the end of the day the billing’s done by themselves. We obviously receive the calls but we don’t know about their notification, if someone was calling too much or whatever else.”

Telecom media representative Brett Jackson said he was unable to comment on Smith’s statement without more information, and was unable to give a comment on the University’s account due to customer privacy. Salient was unable to contact the University before time of press.

Although no formal agreement has been made between Opie and VUWSA for the repayment of the money, Salient understands a verbal agreement was made between Opie and VUWSA President Geoff Hayward shortly after the phone calls were discovered.

The VUWSA exec briefly succeeded in having a University ‘hold’ placed on Opie’s student account, meaning that she couldn’t add or change courses or graduate until the money was repaid to VUWSA. However, a few days later the hold was removed, with the Student Fees Coordinator explaining that, “We are not allowed to apply holds for issues relating to VUWSA. Apparently it must be for University issues only.”

Opie and Hayward are currently undergoing mediation over the issue, and both have declined to comment to Salient on the matter.


About the Author ()

With her take-no-prisoners, kick-ass attitude, former News Editor Laura McQuillan adequately makes up for her lack of stature. Roaming the corridors (and underground tunnels) of the University by day, and hunting vampires and Nazi war criminals by night, McQuillan will stop at nothing to bring you the freshest news.

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