Telstra billing error slammed by ACMA

Not good enough: Regulator slams Telstra over new billing blunder

Australia’s largest telco, Telstra, has paid $24 million in penalties and refunds after the consumer watchdog found that it had wrongly billed over 6,000 customers — the majority of which were small businesses.

An Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigation found that the overbilling occurred between April 2012 and August 2023, leaving Telstra in breach of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code.

This follows similar issues with Telstra’s billing accuracy compliance in September 2020 where it overcharged 10,000 customers, and again in 2022 where it overcharged more than 11,000 customers.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said that the ACMA has lost patience with Telstra after repeated billing blunders and failures to comply with the TCP Code.

“Telstra has a history of incorrectly billing customers and it’s just not good enough,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“At a time when many small businesses are facing economic pressures, unaccounted costs can create very real stress and financial hardship. All telcos must have robust billing systems in place to ensure that consumers, including small businesses, are only paying for agreed and active services.”

Telstra acknowledges it let customers down

The billing issue was a result of Telstra failing to follow a series of steps in its ADSL deactivation process, an issue Telstra had self-reported to the ACMA. Telstra has paid a penalty of over $3 million and refunded over $17.7 million to customers, with a further $3.4 million to be refunded by the end of the year.

Telstra Global Business Services Group Executive Dean Salter acknowledges that this was unacceptable, but that Telstra has put new controls in place to prevent this from happening again and that it will do better by its customers.

“Getting something as important as billing wrong isn’t acceptable, and this is clearly not the experience we want to be providing our customers,” Mr Salter said.

“These ADSL billing errors occurred because we didn’t follow the proper deactivation process, including when some customers migrated to the NBN, which resulted in some customers being charged for inactive services. We’ve reached out to our customers to explain what went wrong and what we’re doing to fix it, including refunding them for the incorrect charges with interest.”

“We’ve let these customers down. We apologise for this, and it’s clear we need to do better.”

Any further billing breaches by Telstra could result in further action being taken by the ACMA, including commencing proceedings in the Federal Court.

“Telstra is a major player in the Australian telco sector and it needs to continue to prioritise its billing compliance and get its systems in order,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

Looking for a new NBN provider? Compare NBN plans

“Telstra’s latest billing error serves as a good reminder to customers to keep an eye on their phone or internet charges, especially in our current cost of living crisis,” Canstar Blue Utilities Editor Tara Donnelly said.

“Although prices for both NBN and mobile services are on the rise, customers shouldn’t overlook unexpected changes to their plan costs.”

Ms Donnelly has the following advice for Aussies concerned about rising costs.

“Make sure you know exactly what you should be paying, and flag any unexplained charges or price increases straight away. And if you’re unhappy with your current pricing or service, don’t be afraid to look around for a cheaper offer.”

With NBN prices on the rise, Aussies are being urged to shop around and compare to find a better value NBN plan. Compare a range of popular speed tiers and NBN plans in the below tables.

Unlimited NBN 100 Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited NBN 100 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard 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 NBN 50 Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited NBN 50 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard 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 NBN 25 Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited NBN 25 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard 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 NBN 12 Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited NBN 12 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard 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.

The following tables show a selection of unlimited Home Superfast (NBN 250) plans on Canstar Blue’s database listed in order of standard monthly cost, from lowest to highest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

The following tables show a selection of unlimited Home Ultrafast (NBN 1000) plans on Canstar Blue’s database listed in order of standard monthly cost, from lowest to highest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Emma Bradstock
Telco Specialist
Emma Bradstock has been an authority on consumer phone, internet, technology and streaming markets in Australia for the last 4 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Media from Macquarie University and has a decade of professional writing experience in print and digital media.

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