The vast majority of Telstra customers will pay $5 per month more on their internet bills following price increases announced this week.
Consumer Action Law Centre CEO Stephanie Tonkin said a growing number of families already stretched in a cost-of-living crisis don’t have a buffer to absorb these price rises, on top of recent price rises on mobile phone plans.
“It’s another example in the trend of massive businesses posting $billions in profits while at the same time increasing prices, citing increasing costs as a driver.
“As Australia’s leading provider of essential telecommunications and internet services, it is incumbent on Telstra to offer plans that people in hardship can actually afford,” Stephanie said.
There was some good news with Telstra announcing savings for certain people on low incomes, but this offer isn’t for all customers in hardship, and it requires people to proactively connect in with Telstra’s concessions programs.
“People calling our frontline services have been expressing “plan fatigue” and are even paying more than they need to because they don’t have the knowledge or the energy to navigate the complex process of changing plan and/or provider,” she said.
“Telstra should improve customer service by telling users when there’s a better deal available, rather than letting them languish on bad and unaffordable standing offers.
“Further, Telstra announced a $2 billion profit recently, they have the money to offer better deals to people in hardship and explain their services better as the business is clearly not suffering unlike many of its customers,” she said.
Associate Director of Financial Counselling Practice, Consumer Action, Claire Tacon said that having a phone and access to the Internet is seen as so essential that people are prepared to make whatever sacrifices they can to ensure their telco bill is paid.
“Callers to the National Debt Helpline tell us they are paying much more than they can afford for their telecommunications plans,” Claire said.
For people on low incomes or receiving a Centrelink income, their smart phone is often their only source of access to the internet.
“People are prepared to buy fewer groceries or delay medical or dental appointments to ensure they are not cut off from what is an essential lifeline to communication and information,” Claire said.
Media Contact: Mark Pearce Tel :0413 299 567 E:Mark@consumeraction.org.au