Telstra bills customer $2M, blames error on customer

By @chelean on
A man and power lines are reflected in a Telstra poster adorning a public telephone in Sydney, Australia, August 13, 2015.
A man and power lines are reflected in a Telstra poster adorning a public telephone in Sydney, Australia, August 13, 2015. Reuters/David Gray

Telstra’s connectivity isn’t the only issue it is facing today. A customer has revealed the Australian telco has charged him over $2 million dollars for its service, which Telstra has blamed on user error.

Calum Mawson was supposed to be charged only $225 for using Telstra. He paid his bill online last Friday and promptly received a confirmation email for his payment. But instead of $225, Mawson was told he had paid $2,250,623.

The 22-year-old club promoter told news.com.au that he immediately called the telco to inform them of the mistake, but the customer service rep told him “not to worry as the payment would not go through.”

He thought the matter had been resolved then, but when he attempted to use an Uber ridesharing service after the weekend, he was told that he had insufficient funds for the service. He then checked his Commbank account and saw that he was charged the $2.25 million bill.

“I was completely gobsmacked at the amount, I have never seen so much money in my life,” he told the publication.

Commonwealth Bank, he said, has been helpful when he called its customer service. The bank returned the money to his account following a three-day wait.

“Commonwealth reversed all the fees and said it wouldn’t affect my credit rating, but I was still without money for a number of days,” he said.

Telstra, on the other hand, blamed Mawson for the error. Although apologetic, the Aussie telco said the issue was the “result of accidental user error,” which Mawson refuted, insisting he only entered three digits when he paid online.

“Telstra has been so unhelpful throughout the whole experience and customer service just kept trying to push the blame,” he said. “I think Telstra are the ones to blame in this scenario and what makes things worse is the fact they haven’t even reached out to offer any sort of compensation.”

Hours before news.com.au’s publication of his predicament with Telstra, Mawson said he received an email from the telco to tell him that his bill was left unpaid.

Telstra is currently being plagued with connectivity issues, with some customers complaining they don’t have Internet connection for days. It suffered a massive network issue on Friday, leaving thousands of ADSL and NBN customers without service.

Some customers still did not have phone or data service come Monday. And when they called Telstra’ customer help hotline, they were advised to wait for another 24 hours for service.

Telstra has also been accused of third party billing “scam,” in which customers said they were charged thousands of dollars after clicking a third party website.

Read more: Telstra accused of third party billing ‘scam’ that charges customers hidden costs