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Impelus to seek injunction against Telstra third-party billing decision

Following Telstra's decision to cut off third-party billing partners, Impelus has announced its intention to seek relief from the Supreme Court of NSW citing EDITDA impact of up to AU$680,000.

Direct carrier billing (DCB) services provider Impelus has announced its intention to seek injunctive relief from the Supreme Court of New South Wales to prevent Telstra from banning its services.

Impelus, which provides mobile and digital communications products and services, said it had "without success" attempted to resolve the issue with Telstra.

"Impelus' strong position is that Telstra has a continuing obligation to provide it with the services after March 2, 2018, and intends on initiating proceedings in the Supreme Court of New South Wales to seek injunctive or expedited final relief to prevent Telstra from ceasing to provide it with the services," Impelus said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) on Friday.

"The company is extremely disappointed with Telstra's decision after having shared such a long and successful relationship in DCB for more than four years."

Impelus added that its DCB operations are "non-core", but that the sudden cessation of services by Telstra will materially impact its FY18 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) to the tune of between AU$550,000 and AU$680,000, as well as its revenue.

"The directors remain committed to a resolution of this issue, but are of the view that the commencement of proceedings in the Supreme Court is in the best interests of all shareholders at this time to preserve the Company's rights that have been breached by Telstra," Impelus concluded.

Telstra had announced in December that it would halt DCB services.

"From 3 December 2017, you will not be able to subscribe to new digital content, apps, or services from other companies through Premium SMS or Telstra Carrier Billing. This is because we're phasing out Premium Service subscriptions," Telstra said at the time.

Still being charged to customers' Telstra bills are Google Play, Windows Store, AirG Chat, AFL or NRL apps, Apple Music, Foxtel Now, Telstra TV, Telstra Play, Caller Tones, other Telstra subscription content, and one-time charges such as online voting, competition entries, and donations.

This followed the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) in July publishing a survey that showed 12 percent of respondents had experienced "unexpected" third-party billing on their mobile phone bills.

These were usually as a result of purchasing apps, playing games, entering competitions, voting in TV shows, and receiving news updates, ACCAN said, with more than a third of respondents saying they had not been informed of, consented to, confirmed, or understood the resultant charge.

"Applied to the mobile customer base of Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone, this 12 percent equates to almost 1.9 million people who could have received unexpected charges on their mobile bills. We estimate that collectively, consumers may have been charged as much as AU$20 million unexpectedly in the last six months," ACCAN director of Policy Una Lawrence said at the time.

"ACCAN is calling for better protections to be put in place so that consumers don't get caught out with unexpected charges on their mobile bills."

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