Telstra’s new $2.20 fee, charged to customers who don’t pay their bills electronically, will be added to their bill payments from today.
However, as of this afternoon, this fee has been dropped for Commonwealth Seniors Card holders and will no longer be forced on customers who ring Telstra to express why they need to continue paying in cash. Originally, only people on low incomes or with disabilities were exempt from the extra charge.
Anyone who pays their bill in person at a Telstra or Australia Post shop, or sends their payment through the mail, will be subject to this “administration fee”. It is the highest fee of its kind of all the leading telcos.
CHOICE has received complaints from angry Telstra customers about the move, prompting CEO Nick Stace to write to Telstra chief David Thodey, appealing to him to reconsider the policy and withdraw the fee (see his response here).
Thodey will instruct Telstra call centre staff to be “sympathetic” to customers’ reasons for wanting to pay cash and then remove the charges. Mr Thodey cited customers’ dislike of online banking as one possible reason.
Thodey has agreed to take further consumer concerns very seriously and has invited people to give feedback.
“Telstra’s new CEO has said publicly ever since taking on the role that he is determined to make customer service his top priority,” said CHOICE Chief Executive Nick Stace.
“The $2.20 charge flies in the face of giving customers more of what they want, and we want a clear statement the charge will be dropped for everyone. Under pressure, Mr Thodey has gone three-quarters of the way by indicating that customers will be exempt if they call Telstra with a good reason to carry on paying cash. This is a partial victory for people power.”
CHOICE wants Telstra to stick to its word and says consumers who don’t receive a “sympathetic” voice at Telstra should email firstname.lastname@example.org so CHOICE can take up the issue on their behalf.
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