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Telstra warned for AU$30 million in overcharges on global roaming

Telstra has received a formal warning for overcharging around 260,000 customers a total of around AU$30 million in data roaming charges.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has given Telstra a warning after it dobbed itself in to the regulator for incorrectly charging around 260,000 customers approximately AU$30 million more than it should have in global roaming data charges.

The authority found that between 2006 and 2012, Telstra had incorrectly billed customers who were travelling overseas multiple flag fall fees for single data sessions.

Telstra had been supplied inaccurate information from the international carriers, and Telstra did not notice the problem until a customer flagged it to the company. Once that had been done, Telstra notified the ACMA and refunded approximately AU$30 million to 260,000 customers who were overcharged during the six years.

A Telstra spokesperson said in a statement that it accepted the ACMA's findings and has resolved the issue.

"This incident, from last year, concerned an individual call charge and the way international carriers generated their data usage records. Once we identified it, we put in place immediate steps to prevent it happening again. We also proactively notified the ACMA, and began a process to fully refund customers and to apologise for this happening in the first place. We have permanently removed the charge in question, and we accept this finding from ACMA," the spokesperson said.

The ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said the incident highlighted the need for customers to keep an eye on their bills for any unusual charges.

"Our investigation makes it very clear that all telcos need to listen to their customers who report billing problems and be vigilant about any potential issues with the information provided to them by third parties," he said in a statement.

The ACMA decided to warn Telstra because the telco itself was not the cause of the problem; it reported the matter to the ACMA; and it worked to refund customers who had been overcharged.

Telstra is the only major mobile telco in Australia that has yet to announce changes to its global roaming charges. Optus recently slashed its roaming charges in a number of countries, and Vodafone's new Red plans allow for customers travelling to the US, the UK, and New Zealand to pay AU$5 extra per day to use their phone as if they were still in Australia.

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