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Telcos continue to charge face to face fee

FEE FIGHTER: Kerry Smith doesn’t understand why he has to pay $3.20 to pay his monthly Telstra bill in the Telstra store.
FEE FIGHTER: Kerry Smith doesn’t understand why he has to pay $3.20 to pay his monthly Telstra bill in the Telstra store. Paul Braven

IT WAS big business bowing to customer backlash - but one Gladstone Telstra customer has been left wondering what the mea culpa has actually achieved for anyone.

Telstra in November bumped up the fee it charges for those who receive their bill on paper, and pay in-store, from $2 to $3.20.

Gladstone resident Kerry Smith wasn't the only one upset but he can't figure out what the telco's much-trumpeted climbdown has actually achieved.

After a review, Telstra is this month changing the flat fee to $2.20 for paper bills, but imposing a $1 charge for in-store payment.

Mr Smith said he was no maths whiz, but the total he was being slugged was still $3.20 (for the bill and payment). So who was benefitting?

"I'll still get my paper bill and go down to the Telstra store and pay my bill," he said.

"Three dollars 20 cents might sound petty but it's not. I'm not the only one and it works out to be a lot of money."

The fee doesn't apply to pensioners and health care card holders but there are many others who still don't pay bills online with statistics from 2014 showing that 35% of Australians aged 55-64 didn't pay online as well as 25% aged 45-54, 20% aged 35-44 and 10% aged 25-34.

A Telstra spokesperson said the fee only applied to a small percentage of customers and the company didn't profit from it.

"It only partially recovers the cost we incur," the spokesperson said.

But Mr Smith was having none of it.

"No other business charges me for an invoice and to pay the bill," he said.

"My power bill from last month arrived for free and they didn't charge me to pay it.

"I shouldn't have to pay anything for Telstra either, we never used to."

Telstra isn't the only telecommunications company to charge people for doing business this way. Both Optus and Vodafone charge $2.20 for a paper bill.

Optus charge $1.30 for customers who pay through Australia Post while Vodafone charge $1.87 for the same privilege.

Mr Smith said it was not good enough and he is going to make a complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

He might be disappointed with ACCC after a spokesperson told The Observer businesses could charge fees for goods and services as long as customers hadn't been misled.

 

OLD FASHIONED FEES

Telstra

  • $2.20 paper bill
  • $1 pay in store

Optus

  • $2.20 paper bill
  • $1.30 pay at Aust Post

Vodafone

  • $2.20 paper bill
  • $1.87 pay at Aust Post

Topics:  australia post, optus, phone bill, telstra, vodafone



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