Telstra targeted for class action against late fees

Telstra targeted for class action against late fees

Summary: Telstra will be the first telecommunications company in Australia targeted by ACA Lawyers for class action for charging its customers late fees.

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ACA Lawyers is seeking to get Telstra customers on board a new class action suit targeting the company's late fee charges.

The case follows a similar case lodged against ANZ, Citibank, and Westpac over credit card late fees earlier this month, after the Federal Court ruled in February that ANZ's late credit card fees were a penalty and did not reflect the actual cost to the bank.

ACA Lawyers principal Steven Lewis said that Telstra's AU$4.3 billion profit result last week was built in part from AU$272 million in revenue collected through "late fees and other miscellaneous fees".

"Since 2000, hundreds of thousands of Telstra customers have paid late fees in the mistaken belief Telstra was entitled to charge the fee," he said in a statement.

"But a recent court decision in relation to credit card fees found that late payment fees charged by banks are unlawful and that clients are entitled to get most of their money back."

ACA says Telstra currently charges an AU$15 late fee if the billing amount owed is AU$70 or more.

ACA Lawyers said it had the backing of UK litigation funder Harbour Litigation Funding, and would also seek to target Optus and Vodafone in the future. Those who choose to participate in the class action will have no up front cost, but Harbour Litigation Funding will take "a percentage" of the damages if any are awarded.

In a statement, Telstra defended its late fee system.

"We will review the claim when we receive it. We believe our late payment fees are reasonable in light of the costs we incur and we will strongly defend any claim we receive," a spokesperson for the telco told ZDNet.

Launching class actions against telcos is not always successful. The last attempted class action against a telecommunications company in Australia has been stalled for four years, with Piper Alderman and litigation funder LCM failing to get its class action against Vodafone off the ground to date.

Topics: Telcos, Telstra, Australia

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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5 comments
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  • Is that important?

    "Federal Court ruled in February that ANZ's late credit card fees were a penalty and did not reflect the actual cost to the bank"

    Is that important? Late fees have always been a breach of contract penalty.
    Buster Friendly
    • No they havent

      And youre talking about two seperate industries.
      EXCESSIVE bank fees have been illegal since the courts FOUND them that way in late 2012. Before that we had our heads planted FAR more firmly up our arses than we do now (We still have them stuck up our butts, but a small minority are starting to argue now, only a small minority because that small minority that actually complains about whats wrong make up for all the other twats that call those people 'whiny little bitches' - Next time you want to tell someone to get over themselves for whining about something other than football or a tv show, give yourself a slap. That person gives more of a shit about you and your welfare than you do.
      Noneofyourdamnbusinesss
  • Good thing

    I think it's a good thing. I recall the last time I was charged a late fee by Telstra. I set up with Telstra and my bank (CBA) that all my bills appear in my bank's BPAY View system. The bill normally arrives a few days on-line after receiving the paper bill. I get an e-mail from my bank that the bill has arrived in the first week of the month and is due on the 17th in my case. I set up a scheduled BPAY for that amount and all is well. In this case the BPAY View did not arrive till 2 days AFTER the bill was due. I then paid it immediately and was charged $15 for that honour. Sure, a call to Telstra and it was waived within 5 minutes, but the hassle of it (Telstra waiting queue, getting to the right department etc.), and in this case the fact I believe it wasn't my fault made me very angry.

    Similarly Telstra charge for credit card payments leaving me an option of really only paying by BPAY, as I do not believe I should get charged credit card fees for the privilege of paying my bill (on time), but EVEN IF I pay the bill on the due date, if that falls on a weekend or some public holiday over in the Eastern States I don't know about I also get charged the $15. Fact is, I DID pay the bill on time, it is the bank and Telstra processing that make the payment show up late. Again, not my fault and if Telstra wants us to use BPAY it should accept payment a few days late in this situation when it is not under customer control.

    The whole situation sucks. Sure, if someone is consistently late by more than a few days in these situations then yes, they need to be reminded to pay on time and a "fine" (notice I do not use the inappropriate term "fee") is partially justified in my opinion.

    The billing system needs review. No fee should be charged if all safety checks are in place (did the customer receive the bill in their preferred payment method?), did the payment fall on a weekend or public holiday? Should be taken into account and not just charged and ask questions later.

    In the current situation Telstra are just a bunch of thieves.
    Ramrunner-5dd3e
  • I dont really care about late fees

    Im more concerned about having requests to show evidence id used data they claimed i have used repeatedly ignored.
    Telstra are our alpha scumbags. We go with them because their network is the ONLY useful network in the company. Optus are beta scumbags, shit network, but take in customers, SOLELY because they arent telstra. Every other company in this country is either a totally useless non competitor (hahaha vodafone, you suck so hard you cant even compete with those douchey companies) or an MVNO. Its about time someone with a few quid came over here and seriously gave some competition to what is, effectively, a duopoly.
    Noneofyourdamnbusinesss
  • Company

    should read country. Sorry.
    Noneofyourdamnbusinesss