TELSTRA Admits Unauthorized Charges for 100,000 Subscribers

April 9, 2018
telstra customer billing

Looks like a lot of refunds are likely to roll out soon.

The cats out of the bag as one Australian telecommunications and media company has admitted of charging almost 100,000 of customers after misleading them in subscribing and downloading digital content—ringtone, gaming, and more. According to a report by Gizmodo, the company behind such act was Telstra, and sad to say that every download for thus customers happened without payment details or identity verification taking place.

“Many Telstra customers paid for content they did not want, did not use, and had difficulty unsubscribing from,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims said.

“Telstra knew that the Premium Direct Billing service it operated led to large numbers of its customers being billed for purchases made without their knowledge or consent. Despite this, Telstra continued to bill customers, making substantial revenue from the service at the expense of customers.”

This is an issue that can definitely ruin a company’s reputation, especially since customers have the power of “word of mouth”. With this experience, definitely, they have already told dozens of people around them about it. There is no doubt that Telstra has received thousands of calls from customers. Sims said the Telco company redirected customers who complained to third parties, even though Telstra will have a hard time in getting a refund or cancelling subscriptions for customers from these third party suppliers.

“Customers were often left frustrated and out of pocket as a result of Telstra’s conduct,” Sims said.

In Telstra’s defence, Vicki Brady, Telstra’s Group Executive of Consumer and Small Business, said a large number of customers were happy with the service, but there were a number who complained about it.

“A large proportion of customers who decided to subscribe to a service were happy with it, however the number of complaints received over time shows there were issues with the PDB service that needed to be addressed. We apologise to our customers who have been charged for PDB subscription services they did not knowingly request or could not opt out of.”

Said to be an initiative “to give customers a convenient way of charging certain types of online services to their phone bill”, this so-called “Premium Direct Billing” did not perform to what it should have to — provide convenience to customers.

“In a digital world, increasingly our customers have the option of buying things online that can be charged to their Telstra bill, and for their convenience we aim to make it as simple as possible. It is clear for this specific type of service, we did not get that right,” Brady said.

Currently, Telstra has ceased operations of their “Premium Direct Billing”. The Telco company said they have provided at least $5 million for refunds to customers alone and is going to review future complaints connected to the issue.