Telstra has paid more than $3m in fines after wrongly charging customers over an 11-year period. An Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigation found the 6532 customers were charged an average $2600 for inactive internet services between April 2012 and August 2023. The telco giant has paid a $3,010,320 penalty and refunded more than $17m to the affected customers, with a further $3.4m to be refunded by the end of the year. The charges breached the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code as well as a formal ACMA direction to comply with the code handed out in 2020. ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the watchdog lost patience with Telstra after this series of significant billing errors. “Telstra has a history of incorrectly billing customers and it’s just not good enough,” Ms O’Loughlin said. “At a time when many small businesses are facing economic pressures, unaccounted costs can create very real stress and financial hardship. “All telcos must have robust billing systems in place to ensure that consumers, including small businesses, are only paying for agreed and active services.” Telstra said the billing issues were caused by the company failing to follow a series of steps in its ADSL internet service deactivation process. Telstra Global Business Services group executive Dean Salter conceded it wasn’t acceptable and not the experience the telco wanted to be providing customers. “These ADSL billing errors occurred because we didn’t follow the proper deactivation process, including when some customers migrated to the NBN, which resulted in some customers being charged for inactive services,” Mr Salter said. “We’ve reached out to our customers to explain what went wrong and what we’re doing to fix it, including refunding them for the incorrect charges with interest. “We know our customers deserve better, which is why we reported the issue to ACMA and conducted our own extensive investigation. We have put new controls in place to prevent this issue from happening again, including monthly checks if ADSL services are being used by customers before they’re billed.” Telstra has also agreed to report to the ACMA in six months about the effectiveness of these controls. Concerned customers should check their bills and discuss the matter with their telco. If they continue to have an issue that can’t be resolved, they can complain to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. ACMA in 2020 found Telstra overcharged more than 10,000 customers almost $2.5m over a 12-year period, and in 2022, it found the company overcharged more than 11,000 customers about $1.7m.