The Federal Court today upheld the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) $50 million fine against Telstra for its treatment of Indigenous people in rural and remote parts of Western Australia, South Australia, and Northern Territory.
“This fine is a line in the sand for Telstra and any telco that treats customers unfairly and causes harm. This conduct needs to stop,” said Gerard Brody, CEO Consumer Action with Financial Rights Legal Centre, Financial Counselling Australia and WEstjustice supporting the call.
“Telstra claims to have changed its ways, yet we continue to get calls from people who have experienced very poor customer service and dispute resolution, inadequate hardship assistance and terrible sales practices.
“We encourage the ACCC and other regulators to dig deeper into Telstra’s conduct. We know that these poor practices are also impacting Aboriginal communities in rural and metropolitan areas of Victoria, and other marginalised communities across Australia.
“This fine underscores the need for the telco industry to change and improve its practices,” said Mr Brody.
“As we recover from the COVID-19 crisis, it is clear that telecommunications are an essential service that people rely on for health, work and education. The current model of self-regulation in this industry has failed,” he said.
A recent report from Financial Counselling Australia showed that more than a third of financial counsellors said at least 50% of their clients with telco debts had been mis-sold telco products. Financial counsellors also described telco debt as more difficult to assist with than other types of debt.
Another report The Trouble with Telcos research published by Consumer Action in November, also detailed numerous cases studies about the ways telcos in Australia have failed the community, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis.
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