Telstra has refunded $9.3 million to 72,000 customers over misleading third party charges

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Telstra has refunded $9.3 million to 72,000 customers for misleading them over its ‘Premium Direct Billing’ (PDB) third-party billing service.

The refunds come on top of the $10 million penalty the telco paid in April following legal action over false or misleading representations about charges for digital content, such as games and ringtones.

Telstra killed off the PDB service, which saw charges automatically applied to mobile accounts, in March this year.

Up until October 2017, the telco generated around $61.7 million in net revenue from commissions on PDB services charged to more than 2.7 million mobile numbers.

But the company was taken to court earlier this year over the issue by the consumer watchdog, the ACCC, admitting that it did not adequately inform customers it had set the PDB system as a default on customers’ mobile accounts and failed to implement the identity verification safeguards, despite being aware of the problem in 2015 and 2016 because of a rising number of customer complaints about disputed charges.

ACCC Chair Rod Sims said Telstra had paid nearly $20 million in penalties and refunds after his organisation took action.

On top of that figure, at least $5 million in refunds were paid by Telstra or third parties while the PDB service was in operation.

“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,” Sims said.

“We’d encourage current or former Telstra customers to contact Telstra for a refund if they believe there were unauthorised charges on their account because of the PDB service.”

Telstra customers who suspect unauthorised PDB charges were applied to their accounts or prepaid service should contact Telstra on 1800 007 763 (post-paid customers), 1800 007 413 (prepaid customers) or 1800 007 830 (business customers) for a refund.

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