Telstra In Trouble Over Excess Data Charges Spanning 6 Years

telstra excess data charges acmaImage: iStock

Last week Telstra found itself in a bit of hot water with the ACCC after failing to checking the maximum speeds on 180,000 NBN plans.

This time around ACMA is having a crack after the telco didn't send data usage warnings to 150,000 mobile broadband customers. This has resulted in unexpected usage charges for some customers.

According to ACMA, SMS notifications were set up for the purpose of letting customers know if they were approaching their data limit. However, these texts were not able to be received by broadband customers who didn't have an sms-capable device such as a phone or tablet.

As such, some customers may not have known how much data they were using or when they went over their limit.

Failing to send an email in lieu of a text is breach of the telco's obligations under Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code.

This lack of communication took place over almost six years - between September 2013 and May 2019. ACMA has now issued Telstra with a formal warning over the incident.

"Usage notifications give people due warning that they may be about to incur additional charges for their broadband services," said ACMA Chair, Nerida O’Loughlin.

Ms O'Loughlin also stated that the TCP Code requires telcos to send customers notifications within 48 hours of them reaching specified data usage caps on post-paid internet plans.

"Consumers have a right to make informed decisions about their broadband use, and by failing to send these notifications in the correct format people have had to pay excess usage charges without sufficient warning."

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Telstra automatically refunded customers who complained about excess charges during the period. The company has also contacted all impacted customers to instruct them on how to claim their refund.

"We know our customers rely on us to help them manage the costs of their services and our data usage alerts are meant to help them do that," said a Telstra spokesperson in an email to Gizmodo Australia.

"We let the ACMA know once we understood the nature and scale of the issue, and the system has been updated to send these alerts via email. People can also keep track of their usage through the Telstra 24x7 app as well."

If you think you may have been affected during this time, you can still contact Telstra to resolve the issue.

"There’s still some people who haven’t responded to the letters we sent about a refund and we encourage those people to get in touch so we can make this right," said the spokesperson.

Fortunately, any customers on one of Telstra's new mobile plans will not have this issue as they don't contain excess data charges.

[ACMA]

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