Telco giant Telstra has been forced to refund $9.3 million to some 72,000 customers who were found to have been misled by its billing practices on digital content.
The refunds come after Telstra was fined $10 million by the Federal Court earlier this year over its representations to customers about the charges for digital content, including mobile phone ringtones and games.
The telco admitted that it had made false or misleading claims to customers in relation to its “Premium Direct Billing” service.
It had been set as the default setting on customer accounts, meaning anyone accessing digital content through the service – even unintentionally – were being charged for doing so.
At the time of the court-imposed penalty, Telstra said that customer refunds amounted to at least $5 million.
By the end of September, that figure had almost doubled to $9.3 million. That equates to an average of $125 per customer.
“We are pleased to see so many customers refunded by Telstra. It’s clear a large number were charged for content like ringtones and wallpapers that they did not want, did not use, and had difficulty unsubscribing from,” said ACCC chair Rod Sims.
“Following our action, Telstra has paid close to $20 million in penalties and refunds. This should serve as a warning to all telecommunication providers that misleading and deceiving customers will result in serious consequences.”
According to the ACCC, Telstra has been using internal complaints records and those lodged with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman to identify the customers owed refunds.
Anyone believing that such charges were applied to their account or prepaid service should contact Telstra directly on the following numbers:
- Business customers: 1800 007 830
- Prepaid customers: 1800 007 413
- Post-paid account holders: 1800 007 763
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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