Telstra is offering to refund excess charges incurred by mobile broadband customers over almost six years due to a system error that prevented them receiving usage notifications.
The telco identified the issue itself and self-reported it to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) because it put them in breach of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections code.
“The issue was caused by Telstra’s systems being set to send SMS notifications which were unable to be received by broadband customers not connected with a mobile phone account,” the ACMA said in a statement.
A Telstra spokesperson confirmed to iTnews that users that consumed Telstra mobile broadband via dongles and tablets - rather than through a mobile handset - were impacted.
"A system error meant that we sent some mobile broadband data usage alerts via SMS to people without SMS-compatible devices - devices like tablets, or 4G dongles - so some people may not have known how much data they were using," the spokesperson said.
The inability to receive SMS notifications meant those mobile broadband users incurred excess usage charges without warning.
“Telstra advised it has automatically refunded all customers who lodged a complaint about excess usage over the relevant period or incurred an excess usage charge of $5 or less,” the ACMA said.
“It has also written to all other affected customers who can claim a refund via an online form.
“Telstra customers who believe they incurred excess usage charges as a result of not receiving a usage notification during the above periods can contact Telstra on 13 22 00.”
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin warned that “any further breaches of the code [by Telstra] would likely result in more serious regulatory action.”
“The ACMA has asked Telstra to report regularly on its progress of refunding affected customers until all customers have been reimbursed,” O’Loughlin said.
Telstra announced new mobile plans in June that have no excess data charges, meaning this type of error is no longer possible.