Telstra issues refunds and pays fine following billing errors

28 Apr 2022

Telstra has reportedly refunded customers more than AUD1.73 million (USD1.2 million) and paid an AUD506,160 infringement notice following an investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) which determined it had overcharged thousands of customers.

In a press release regarding the matter, the ACMA noted that back in 2020 it had directed Telstra to comply with billing accuracy obligations after an investigation found it had overcharged more than 10,000 customers almost AUD2.5 million over a twelve-year period. Now, a new ACMA investigation has found the company issued inaccurate bills to more than 11,600 other customers, including 4,400 who were given incorrect bills after the ACMA had issued Telstra the formal direction to comply with billing accuracy rules. More than 8,000 affected customers were collectively charged more than AUD1.2 million for Belong-branded broadband services after they had moved to another telco, with some billed more than once. Other Telstra customers were charged internet plan set-up fees that no longer applied or were overcharged for other phone services.

The telco self-reported the errors, which occurred between July 2018 and October 2021, to the ACMA and independently committed to issue refunds, with the telco advising the watchdog that the errors occurred due to several issues with its internal systems. Nonetheless, according to ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin, the infringement notice was issued due to Telstra not complying with the 2020 direction. ‘Telstra had already been formally directed by the ACMA to comply with billing rules so should have moved to address these issues and not inconvenienced its customers further,’ Ms O’Loughlin said.