Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The ugly face of Telstra just got uglier

The new boss of Telstra is clearly no better than the greasy Mexican

TELSTRA customers who pay their phone bills in person will soon be charged for their efforts. The telco giant yesterday introduced a range of steep fees in an attempt to herd its customers into making online BPAY payments and to eliminate costly face-to-face customer service, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The penny-pinching tactic will cost as much as 2 per cent of every bill and is set to save it "several hundred million dollars" a year. From September 14, Telstra will charge a $2.20 administration fee for bills paid by mail or in person at a Telstra Shop or Australia Post. The telco's existing credit card payment processing fee will also rise to 1 per cent of the payment amount for MasterCard, VISA, and American Express cards, and 2 per cent for Diners Club.

However, so as not to penalise elderly customers, Telstra will exempt those with a pensioner or disability card from paying the new fees or credit card charges. Telstra Pensioner Discount customers or customers who have already registered their eligible pensioner card details with Telstra for the credit card payment processing fee discount are automatically exempt as are Telstra Disability Equipment Program product customers or those registered for another Telstra Disability Service.

All customers who pay their bills through an online savings or cheque account will also be exempt from the fees.

The telco said the fees were consistent with industry practice. "Every year we spend hundreds of millions of dollars on billing, which includes processing bill payments, paying third-party billing service providers, answering customers' questions about their bills and operating systems to support billing," Telstra Consumer Executive Director Jenny Young said. "We're introducing or changing our fees for some payment options which incur higher administration costs. "However, Telstra will always be conscious of customers who are experiencing hardship."

Ms Young said for customers with more than one Telstra service, the changes represented a chance to move these services on to a single bill to avoid fees if customers choose bill payment options that incur fees.

Since taking over Australia's largest telecommunications company in May, chief executive David Thodey talked openly about Telstra's tattered public image which has been crystallised by its increasingly poor customer service. A Telstra spokesman said yesterday the introduction of new payment fees would not contribute to a further erosion of public confidence in the telco. [Who does he think he is kidding?]


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