Telstra CEO David Thodey has welcomed debate over the late fees Telstra charges its customers, as ACA Lawyers prepares a class action suit against the company.
The call for class action participants from ACA earlier this week 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 said at the time that Telstra had collected AU$272 million in the last year in late fees, but had no right to do so.
Speaking on ABC radio this morning, Thodey indicated Telstra was keen to take up the fight, and show that the fees were justified.
"I am happy to have this discussion, and I am looking forward to it because I think it is a very different issue to what has been raised by the banks," he said.
"I'd love to never have to charge late fees ever because people pay bills on time. This is when people have used our service, have had 30 days to pay their bill, and if it is over $70, then we do charge a late fee."
He said that people who didn't pay their fees cost the company AU$250 million every year.
"Every year $250 million we write off as bad debt... of people who don't pay their bills," he said.
"We would prefer never to charge a late fee, but if people don't pay their bills, we need to have some incentive for them to take action, because it is a very big issue.
"I do not want to penalise an individual for someone else not paying their fee but we do run a business."
ACA lawyers indicated earlier this week that Optus and Vodafone would also be targeted in future class actions, but Vodafone CEO Inaki Berroeta said that Vodafone's late fees reflected the cost incurred to the company for customers who fail to pay their bills on time.