TELSTRA GENERIC, MELB.030224.AFR.PIC BY ERIN JONASSON. GENERIC HOLD FOR FILES ..FIRST USE AFR PLEASE. Man tapping numers into a telephone, montage, phone call, business telephone enquiries. telemarketing,***afrphotos苏州夜总会招聘*** Photo: Erin JonassonAt 80 years old, Annie McQuisten doesn’t spend much time online, nor on the phone.
In the month of February she made exactly 10 mobile calls, two landline calls and used three gigabytes of data.
And yet her Telstra bill for that same month was $142.70, roughly the amount she has been paying every month for the past 10 years.
“I was shocked,” said Ranui Young, Ms McQuisten’s neighbour who looked at her bill when she asked for some advice.
“I’m a tech savvy IT professional, and I don’t even pay that much.”
In a breakdown of her bill, Telstra advised that she had paid $30 for the 10 mobile calls, $52.75 for the two landline calls and $59.95 for the three gigabytes of data.
“Luckily a neighbour was more than happy to give Annie access to her WiFi…so I cancelled her internet…[changed her] to a basic $26.50 a month line rental… and moved her to a prepaid mobile plan with $30 credit for six months,” Mr Young said.
With the changes Ms McQuistan will save around $1000 a year.
But Mr Young says it never should have come this far and has since lodged a complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.
“Telstra have the ability to identify vulnerable customers by date of birth and consumption… Annie has been paying roughly the same amount for the past 10 years, that’s around $17,000,” he said.
“Shouldn’t Telstra offer a specific product for loyal pensioners like Annie who barely consume any data?”
At her apartment in Fairlight, Ms McQuisten only ever uses three websites; internet banking, email, and Facebook, where she occasionally connects with family in Scotland.
Currently in hospital, Ms McQuisten said she now knew the amount she had been paying was “absolutely outrageous”.
“I didn’t know about this until my dear friend Ranui brought it up. Just the size of it, for a pensioner. $142… And [another bill] was $149…that’s exorbitant,” she said.
“Being a pensioner you’ve got other outlays, expenses to look out for.”
A spokesman for the n Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) said it often heard from consumers stuck on “legacy plans”.
“These are plans that are no longer offered by telcos and have been replaced by updated plans…[and] may no longer suit their usage habits,” he said.
“When selling products to consumers, telcos should ensure their staff properly identify the needs of customers and sell them products that match their usage and budget.”
Telstra’s media general manager Steven Carey offered an apology to Ms McQuisten “for the circumstance she finds herself in,” adding that Telstra had recently worked with her to make changes.
“We have a range of discounts available to customers with a pensioner concession and offer seniors a special phone and internet bundle. However, we rely on customers advising us of their eligibility,” he said.
Telstra currently offers a special seniors bundle for $59 a month, which includes a home phone and internet connection, as well as Telstra Broadband Protect and unlimited local calls.
Every year Telstra runs a check-in program to ensure customers are getting the best value from their services, however in Ms McQuisten’s case, it would appear she fell through the cracks.
“There needs to be better regulation…because vulnerable consumers are being taken advantage of,” Mr Young said.
He is calling on Telstra to refund at least some of the money Ms McQuisten has paid in the past year.
Mr Carey said Telstra has contacted Ms McQuisten to discuss any potential refund.