Monday, 01 October 2018 11:06

Call for more telecoms consumer safeguards Featured

Call for more telecoms consumer safeguards Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

There has been a call for further safeguards to prevent consumers being misled about telecommunications billing charges in the wake of Telstra’s refunding of $9.3 million for misleading consumers over Premium Direct Billing charges.

The telecommunications consumer interest lobby group, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, welcomed the Telstra refund decision, but says further consumer safeguards are needed to “prevent harm from occurring in the first instance”.

ACCAN has now put forward a number of key recommendations it wants to see implemented by the telecommunications industry, including that telcos must to be responsible for handling and resolving complaints from customers about third party charges.

Other recommendations by ACCAN include:

  • Consumers must activate third-party charges via an opt-in arrangement before a telco can bill for them;
  • Consumers should be able to apply a spend limit for third-party charges to their account; and
  • Billing for third-party charges must cease if the consumer has sent a STOP request to the third-party service.

As reported by iTWire the competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission 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.

ACCC chairman Rod 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," Sims said.

“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 - an iTWire treasure is a mentor and coach who volunteers also a writer and much valued founding partner of iTWire. He is a 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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