Telstra ditches third-party billing for subscriptions

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Telstra ditches third-party billing for subscriptions

No more charging to telco's bills.

Telstra has decided to stop allowing third-party subscription-based content providers to charge for their products from the telco's customer bills, following long-time problems with the practice.

Third-party billing generally involves subscription services for things like mobile games, apps, and videos.

The process uses HTTP header enrichment to pass on a customer's number from a telco to a third party so a purchase can be easily charged to the user's phone bill.

It was intended to make the billing process for subscription content services easier, but has instead resulted in people getting hit with random charges for services they did not intend to purchase.

Telcos have tightened their practices over recent years in response to abuse of the process, implementing encryption to stop a customer's phone number from being visible to the third party until a transaction is completed.

In other cases, telcos like Vodafone have additionally decided to only offer third-party billing for one-off charges, like voting on a TV show. 

Telstra last year implemented a double opt-in process for premium SMS content in an effort to reduce the instances of random charges.

Now it has decided to ditch all subscription-based third-party billing arrangements entirely from December 3.

"Some customers have continued to tell us they receive subscription charges for content that they don’t believe they signed up for, so we have taken this extra step," Kevin Teoh, director of consumer mobiles, said in a blog post.

Customers will still be able to purchase subscription-based mobile content through other payment methods.

Telstra said it would continue to offer third-party billing for one-off payments like charity donations and TV show voting.

"We expect this action will further help our customers to avoid unexpected charges on their bill," Teoh said.

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