Telstra pays $9.3m

In customer refunds.

Telstra has refunded $9.3 million to 72,000 customers it misled in relation to its ‘Premium Direct Billing’ (PDB) third-party billing service, according to a report it provided to the ACCC.

It follows a Federal Court order in April that Telstra pay penalties of $10 million for making false or misleading representations about charges for digital content, such as games and ringtones.

Telstra did not adequately inform customers it had set the PDB system as a default on customers’ mobile accounts and that if customers accessed content through the PDB service, even unintentionally, they would be billed directly by Telstra. The PDB service allowed customers to purchase digital content from third-party developers that sell their content outside usual app marketplaces like Google Play or the App Store. Charges were automatically applied to customers’ pre-paid or post-paid mobile accounts.

The ACCC is also conducting a detailed investigation into the third party billing services of other carriers and further enforcement action may follow.

“We are pleased to see so many customers refunded by Telstra. It’s clear a large number were charged for content like ringtones and wallpapers that they did not want, did not use, and had difficulty unsubscribing from,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said. “Following our action, Telstra has paid close to $20 million in penalties and refunds. This should serve as a warning to all telecommunication providers that misleading and deceiving customers will result in serious consequences.”

Telstra is committed to providing refunds to customers it could identify in its complaint records and those who contacted Telstra or the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman directly. Telstra customers who believe unauthorised PDB charges were applied to their accounts or prepaid service are encouraged to contact Telstra directly.

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