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Telstra Hit With Another Big Fine For Dodgy Business Practises

Telstra has been slapped with another big fine weeks after being fined $10M for dodgy sales practises.

This time round the struggling telco has been hit with a $1.5M fine for failing to give its landline customers the chance to port their home phone number to a rival network.

Desperate to hold onto their mobile and landline customers Telstra management who are currently working on taking back control of their retail stores have resorted to questionable business activities as they struggle to find growth.

Telstra moved quickly to stop customers switching providers early in the pandemic.

Considered a critical consumer protection measure as it stops customers feeling locked in the carrier instead chose to stop enabling this function between last March and July, this was the same period that the carrier’s global operation centres struggled to answer consumer calls because of COVID-19 lockdowns.

The $1.5 million infringement notice is the largest fine handed out by ACMA who are responsible for ensuring media and communications works for all Australians.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) believes this led to about 42,000 customers who could not move from Telstra to other telcos, or vice versa, as requested – a backlog that Telstra itself did not clear until October.

Consumers needed the freedom to switch telco providers when suited and this included keeping their prior phone number, said ACMA chairwoman Nerida O’Loughlin.

“Number porting is important for consumers and supports a competitive telco sector,” Ms O’Loughlin said. “It is clear Telstra did not have sufficient plans in place to continue to comply for a length of time with an important consumer safeguard that promotes competition in the telco market.”

Ms O’Loughlin said the regulator appreciated Telstra’s difficulties because of the pandemic and took this into account when deciding the size of the penalty.

Telstra CEO Andy Penn and wife Kallie Blauhorn. 

“Telstra was on notice that the ACMA took these consumer and competition measures seriously and would not be exercising regulatory forbearance for non-compliance. Telco business continuity processes must be robust, particularly after the challenges of the past year,” she said.

Telstra said the pause was because of global COVID-19 shutdowns last year.

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