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Sloppy call data gets Telstra an ACMA wrist-slap

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Telstra is on notice that its data roaming billing isn't up to scratch, courtesy the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

At fault : billing systems with a persistent penchant for plugging multiple flagfall fees on a single data session. This, the ACMA says, put the incumbent in breach of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code.

Telstra's fault was that international carriers were incorrectly marking the billing data they were handing (via a clearing-house) to Telstra, and Telstra didn't spot the problem. By presenting long-duration data sessions as multiple sessions, the international partners put Telstra in the position of charging the multiple flagfalls.

Showing just how this kind of stuff can accumulate: when it discovered the problem in 2012, Telstra told the ACMA that $AU30 million was involved, with more than 260,000 customers affected between October 2006 and April 2012.

This alone may not have been enough to make the ACMA put Telstra under a warning. However, the authority's investigation notes that Telstra had customer complaints on file which, if properly investigated, would have identified the problem:

“It is the ACMA’s view that had Telstra investigated any of these three complaints, it would have discovered that the customers in question had been overcharged because of flaws in the data provided by the clearing house and could then have taken steps to prevent any further related overcharging,” the authority writes.

However, because the carrier got in touch with the affected customers and provided refunds, the ACMA has issued a notice, but not imposed any other penalty. ®

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