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The people vs Testra

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9 years 11 months ago #1 by sozzled
The people vs Testra was created by sozzled
A few months ago, just before we moved from our old apartment in fact, we came to the conclusion that we were sick and tired of Telstra messing us around. Earlier this year they changed their billing system and somehow managed to send our phone bills to an old address where I haven't lived for a couple of years. Anyway, I was unaware of these problems until one day when they cut off my home phone and mobile phone. Even though I managed to sort things out and Telstra agreed that the problem was theirs (and they offered me a month's line rental free) they were never able to get my account details 100% right.

Anyway, the last straw for me came when they introduced their $2.20 administration fee for people who (like me) choose to pay their bills in person. I know, using BPAY over the internet is easy. I don't have any problems using BPAY however I object to being forced to using this as the only way to pay my bills. I don't usually write letters of complaint (particularly about matters as trivial as $2.20 and I'm less likely to write to corporate giants like Telstra who couldn't care less about the likes of me) but on this occasion I felt that there was a fundamental principle at stake and so I wrote to them in August:

I object to these unnecessary and, in my opinion, ridiculous charges that are designed merely to gouge additional profit from us who prefer to pay our bills in person or those who lack the technological means, or capability, or desire to organise their affairs simply to suit Telstra’s preferences. This is not providing customer service. This attitude of Telstra’s is not only presumptuous and stingy; I would further assert that it’s un-Australian.

It matters not to me that the amount of money is a couple of dollars (although it adds an extra $26.40 to my annual spending) but one cannot honestly expect Telstra’s customers to be sympathetic by claims that “higher administration costs for Telstra” cannot be absorbed within the company’s $4.1 billion profit (up 10% on the previous year). I’m sorry, but you’ll have to do better than that!

I have chosen another method to avoid paying these increased charges: I have taken my business to a different telecommunications provider.

I hope that you receive many more letters of protest in addition to this one and that it may help you realise that your customers are not as easily intimidated as, perhaps, you think.

After paying my final account with Telstra I received another bill a couple of weeks ago for, you guessed it, $2.20 ... because I'd paid the bill at a Telstra shop. So, a couple of days ago, I wrote to them again:

I refer to my latest Telstra account. You will see from the account, I have been charged $2.20 for having paid my previous bill at a Telstra shop. As I mentioned in my letter to you dated 20 August, I object to the imposition of this so-called “administration fee” and I have taken my telecommunication business elsewhere. However, in case I have not made my position abundantly clear on this matter, let me state it now, clearly and unambiguously.

(i) I do not accept, as a principle of contract law, that Telstra can unilaterally vary the conditions of an agreement after I have stated that I do not agree to those conditions.

(ii) I have paid all charges owing to Telstra and I no longer see myself liable for payment of further charges arising from services that I have not received nor requested.

(iii) Telstra has made no assurances that, if I were to make further payments at a Telstra agency in future, I would not be further liable for another “administration fee” of $2.20 and that this blatant abuse of the process would continue until I eventually made a payment in a form that was acceptable to Telstra that did not involve this outrageous administration cost. In other words, by paying this $2.20 charge I am, in effect, accepting that it is OK for Telstra to charge whatever it likes for its “services”.

I am no longer a customer of Telstra and I have absolutely no intention of paying the $2.20 which you claim I owe.

I received a SMS message on my mobile phone this morning (apparently Telstra is incapable of writing letters) which said, "Dear Mrs *******, The refunds will be made automatically to all current customers whi have been charged the $2.20 payment administration fee since it was introd". It's not worth the effort to respond to correct the several factual errors they made (or to ask for an explanation of why the message was truncated so abruptly) but apparently Telstra withdrew the controversial administration fee in early November as this report confirms.

Even though I know that my own puny efforts did nothing to change Telstra's attitude, it's reassuring to know that I played a small part in the campaign of protest against corporate greed and bully tactics.

If you think I'm wrong then say "I think you're wrong". If you say, "You're wrong", how do you know?

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