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Telstra once again picks up overcharging fine and 5G coverage gongs

Customers on Telstra sub-brand Belong were collectively charged AU$1.2 million after they left, but at least the telco has the best 5G coverage.
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Written by Chris Duckett, APAC Editor on
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Image: Getty Images

In a tale as old as time itself, or at least it feels like it, Telstra has once again been caught overcharging customers.

"Over 8,000 affected Telstra customers were collectively charged more than AU$1.2 million for Belong-branded broadband services after they had moved to another telco," the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said.

"Some were billed more than once. Other Telstra customers were charged internet plan set-up fees that no longer applied or were overcharged for other phone services."

Added up, it amounted to 11,600 customers being hit with incorrect bills, of which 4,400 were issued after ACMA's November 2020 direction for the telco to lift its game. Telstra has refunded AU$1.73 million to affected customers, and paid a AU$500,000 infringement notice.

As seems to be the pattern with ACMA penalties, Telstra self-reported after it found the overcharging occurring between July 2018 and October 2021, and started granting refunds off its own back.

"Telstra advised that the errors occurred due to several issues with its internal systems," ACMA said.

"These included a data transfer problem between its customer relationship management system and its billing system, manual processing errors, and out-of-date employee instructions."

Despite Telstra breaching an existing direction, ACMA once again threatened possible Federal Court action if other breaches occur.

Elsewhere, OpenSignal released its Australian Mobile Network Experience Report where Telstra collected the most gongs in a report that tried its best to make everyone a winner.

Australia's incumbent telco clearly took out the consistency and coverage sections, Optus won on 5G download speeds, and Vodafone took out an upload speed experience award.

OpenSignal said it tested across the first three months of 2022 for this report.

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