Optus billing error sees business customers charged for cancelled plans

Optus is issuing close to $800,000 in refunds, after a billing error left almost one thousand small businesses out of pocket.

An Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigation found Optus was in breach of the billing accuracy requirements of the TCP Code, which outlines the rules and responsibilities for Australian telecommunications providers. Although Optus self-reported the errors to the ACMA, the telco will now need to pay out a cool $788,609 to affected former customers.

The refunds relate to charges made to the accounts of 994 business customers between February 2011, and March of this year. Customers who had cancelled landline plans and moved to other telcos were continued to be billed for services they were no longer receiving, due to incorrect end dates being entered into Optus’ systems.

Fifteen of the affected customers were charged more than $10,000, an amount which ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said can have ‘a big impact’ on small businesses.

“Optus is the second largest telecommunications company in Australia and should have systems in place to ensure it complies with all relevant regulation,” said Ms. O’Loughlin.

“It is alarming and unacceptable that such a fundamental flaw went undetected in Optus’s systems for so long.”

Optus has since been ordered to adhere to the TCP Code and to repay all of the invalid charges, plus interest. Failure to comply with both the TCP Code and the ACMA’s direction could also result in further consequences for Optus, including penalties up to $250,000.

Optus: committed to refunds

To Optus’ credit, the telco appears committed to rectifying the error, with almost all impacted business customers now having received refunds.

“As confirmed by the ACMA, Optus has contacted 100% of all affected customers, and repaid 98% of the charges plus interest,” an Optus spokesperson told Canstar Blue.

We will continue to work with the ACMA on our refunding program.”

Optus is far from the only Aussie telco to be called out by the ACMA over invalid charges and major policy breaches. Alongside the ACMA, consumer watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has also played a role in enforcing industry standards, and recently initiated proceedings against Optus, Telstra and TPG over misleading NBN speeds.

While Optus is offering refunds for businesses affected by the billing error, the case is an important reminder to customers to keep an eye on your mobile phone and home internet accounts. Knowing what exactly you’re paying for, what is and isn’t included in your plan, and if any extra fees may be applicable can help you keep track of your bills, and ensure you catch any errors ASAP.

Even residential customers can be stung by unexpected charges and poor service. If you’re unhappy with your current provider, it’s easy to shop around and compare — and switching to a better plan can save you hundreds each year.

Unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of monthly cost, from lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Unlimited Standard Evening Speed (NBN 25) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Evening Speed (NBN 25) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Unlimited Basic Evening Speed (NBN 12) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Basic Evening Speed (NBN 12) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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