Friday, 28 September 2018 10:51

Telstra refunds $9.3 million to ‘misled’ consumers: report Featured

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Telstra has refunded $9.3 million to 72,000 customers it misled in relation to its Premium Direct Billing third-party billing service, according to a report the telco has provided to the competition watchdog, the ACCC.

As reported by iTWire, in April 2018, the Federal Court ordered Telstra to pay penalties of $10 million for making false or misleading representations about charges for digital content, such as games and ringtones.

And, Telstra also committed to undertake a consumer remediation program, which has resulted in the $9.3 million of refunds to date.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says the refunds are in addition to at least $5 million in refunds paid by Telstra or third parties to Telstra’s customers during the operation of its PDB service.

“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,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

“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.”

The ACCC says Telstra committed to providing refunds to customers it could identify in its complaint records and those who contacted Telstra or the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman directly.

Sims said Telstra customers who believe unauthorised PDB charges were applied to their accounts or prepaid service are encouraged to contact Telstra directly on 1800 007 763 (post-paid customers), 1800 007 413 (pre-paid customers) or 1800 007 830 (business customers).

“We’d encourage current or former Telstra customers to contact Telstra for a refund if they believe there were unauthorised charges on their account because of the PDB service.

“The ACCC is also conducting a detailed investigation into the third party billing services of other carriers and further enforcement action may well follow.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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