Telstra Refunds Customers $1.73 Million to Clear Up Billing Errors

Telstra Refunds Customers $1.73 Million to Clear Up Billing Errors
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Telstra has shelled out around $2.2 million to clear up a mass billing blunder.

Telstra issued inaccurate bills to more than 11,600 customers, around 8,000 of them were customers of the telco’s budget brand Belong.

The $2.2 million comprises about $1.73 million in refunds to customers and the payment of a $506,160 infringement notice the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) issued the telco.

Back in 2020, Telstra was directed by the ACMA to comply with billing accuracy obligations after an investigation found it had overcharged more than 10,000 customers almost $2.5 million over a 12-year period.

The ACMA cited this case when detailing its new investigation on Thursday. The new investigation – the one outlined today – was in regards to Telstra issuing inaccurate bills to more than 11,600 customers.

The infringement notice, the ACMA explained, was issued due to Telstra not complying with that 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,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.

According to the ACMA, over 8,000 affected Telstra customers were collectively charged more than $1.2 million for Belong-branded broadband services after they had moved to another telco. Some were 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.

Telstra self-reported the billing errors, which occurred between July 2018 and October 2021, with Belong CEO Jana Katakto confirming with Gizmodo Australia refunds were made to customers as soon as the billing errors were found.

“Once Telstra discovered these billing errors, we refunded all impacted customers, apologised for our mistake and also self-reported the issues to ACMA,” she added.

“This is not the experience we want to be providing our customers, and Telstra has now improved our processes and systems to help stop this type of error from occurring again.”

According to Telstra, the billing errors were caused by data transfer issues between IT systems and also some work instructions being unclear or incorrectly applied.

“Telstra is the largest telecommunications company in Australia. I would expect its billing systems to be more sophisticated and compliant with industry-wide consumer protection rules,” O’Loughlin added.

Under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code, telcos must be able to verify and demonstrate that billed charges are accurate.