Telstra has wrapped up paying over 67,000 customers a total of $11 million in compensation, after the telco took too long to connect or repair landline services and didn’t absorb the cost itself.
Under industry rules, telcos must meet agreed timeframes around landline connections and repairs or else customers may be entitled to compensation. If a telco exceeds the timeframes it has 14 days to assess if it will accept liability to pay the required compensation.
“Internal system errors” meant Telstra didn’t adhere to this rule. It did self-report the issue to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), however.
“We found an IT issue that meant a number of customers had not received Customer Service Guarantee payments when they should have,” a Telstra spokesman clarified with Gizmodo Australia.
“We self-reported this to the ACMA and made the payments to customers.”
The spokesman said that following this, Telstra did a “deeper dive” into its systems to check on these Customer Service Guarantee payments, which actually identified a number of other instances where payments had not been made when they should have.
“We have now made these payments, and entered into the undertaking with ACMA announced today,” the spokesman said.
“We deal with millions of customer transactions weekly however this is clearly not the experience we want to be providing our customers. We are in the process of improving the system to better automate the payments.”
Having now paid affected customers more than $11 million in compensation, Telstra has also entered into a court enforceable undertaking with the ACMA where it has committed to implement an improved payment assessment solution so that any compensation owed to customers is paid on time. Telstra is also required to regularly report to the ACMA on its compliance with the compensation rules for the life of the two-year undertaking.
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said telcos accepting compensation liability is a key step in customers being treated fairly.
“Telco customers are entitled to compensation to make up for delayed connections or fault repairs of their landline. Telstra has let down its customers by not paying compensation in a timely manner,” O’Loughlin said.
“The ACMA will continue to monitor Telstra’s progress on its work to update systems and processes so that future non-compliance and the associated negative outcomes for consumers are a thing of the past,” said O’Loughlin.