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Premium Direct Billing

Telstra News

Posted on March 26, 2018

3 min read

You may have heard today that we ceased providing Premium Direct Billing (PDB) earlier this month, and that we have also reached an agreement with the ACCC in Court proceedings relating to PDB.

We have agreed with the ACCC to jointly submit to the Federal Court that we pay a penalty relating to the management of our PDB service.

Premium Direct Billing enables our mobile customers to buy content such as games, apps or videos from third parties by subscribing or purchasing online and have it charged to their mobile phone bill. These services had been introduced by a number of mobile providers to give customers a convenient way of charging certain types of online services to their phone bill.

A large proportion of customers who decided to subscribe to a service were happy with it, however the number of complaints received over time shows there were issues with the PDB service that needed to be addressed.

I want to apologise to any customer who has been charged under our Premium Direct Billing service unexpectedly for these subscription content services and to those who may have experienced difficulty when trying to opt out from them.

And I acknowledge that customers may have raised concerns and I understand that the steps we took over the years in response were not effective and put in place fast enough. We did not get this right, and I apologise.

Following our decision to stop providing new subscription based services in December, from earlier this month we completely exited this service.

PDB services have been recognised as an issue for the broader telecommunications industry – we took a number of steps to improve our processes, but acknowledge we could have done more and done it faster. At Telstra, providing a great customer experience is our top priority and we recognise that our management of this service hasn’t always allowed us to deliver good experiences.

Our number one priority, right now, is working to continue to identify customers who have been impacted through being charged for third party PDB subscriptions, they either didn’t knowingly subscribe to or had tried to opt out of unsuccessfully.

We have a dedicated team working through this and we will commence contacting these customers from next week.

Once we have identified impacted customers, we’ll be proactively reaching out to them, but if you’re concerned about PDB charges on your account you can contact us directly.
Our number one priority is customer experience and the large majority of our customers have a great experience, but we don’t get it right all the time and in cases where we identify issues we will absolutely take the steps to rectify it. In this case, we have committed to identify, contact and offer to refund impacted customers, and we have now completely exited this service.

Background: Premium Direct Billing enables mobile customers to purchase online content such as games, apps and videos from third parties on a subscription or one-off basis by pressing on a subscribe now or purchase now button or similar and to have it charged directly to their mobile bill. We exited this service entirely on 3 March 2018. We will continue to enable customers to purchase some content from third party providers and have it charged directly to their mobile phone bill – more information on these services can be found here.

An interview with our CTO: How technology will find better ways for people to connect

featured Tech and Innovation

Posted on July 10, 2017

4 min read

Håkan Eriksson is Telstra’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) charged with the exciting responsibility to inspire, set direction for and accelerate Telstra’s journey to being a world class technology company. Originally from Sweden, Håkan has held similar roles and responsibilities across the technology industry in addition to holding an Honorary Ph.D and studies at the prestigious Stanford University. Here’s an exclusive insight to his first 120 days in office.

I started in my role at Telstra in early 2017 by attending the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, it wasn’t my first time attending, but this time would be different.

Walking through the conference for the 19th time, I was seeing things in a new light as this time I was coming as an operator and not a vendor.

This time I could look around, ask questions, and see what everyone else was doing rather than being relegated just to the Ericsson booth. While it was fun, wearing a competitor’s badge meant you weren’t allowed into other stands to see what they were showing off.

In my new role, I could go anywhere, talk to anyone, hear fresh perspectives and critically think about how I could apply them to the work I knew I’d be starting as the Chief Technology Officer at Telstra.

But of course, this begs the question, why Telstra? I’ve been in this industry for over 30 years and seen much change in that time. I’ve worked on 2G, 3G, and 4G. Now, 5G is just around the corner and Telstra will be the operator conducting the first live trial in Australia.

That technology is really exciting and that’s part of what drew me here – it’s an opportunity to work on pioneering tech that’s going to build upon and improve what already exists.

Personally, I’ve got lots of connected devices at home like tablets, Sonos speakers, Telstra Smart Home appliances and more. People have been slowly collecting these connected devices, part of what we call the Internet of Things, without realising it so you might be surprised by how many devices you have already that are part of this connected future.

This presents a unique opportunity for us to ask some important questions about how we can best use this technology, how can we secure it, and how can we help people to adopt it so they can thrive in a connected world.

The technology we’re working on at Telstra extends beyond this to include AI, Big Data analytics, and more. To some extent, these technologies already exist in some form. Even now, when you’re leaving the office (at least for me) when I look at my phone, it tells me that it’ll take me 23 minutes to get home. This is a type of artificial intelligence and in the future it’s only going to get smarter.

It’s exciting, but not without its challenges. It’s funny to think about because technology is the easy piece, we can design and test all forms of technology until we get it right but it’s meaningless unless people are ready and interested in what you’re creating.

If you’re too early it doesn’t work, if you’re too late it doesn’t work: timing is everything.

There are two things that I find most exciting about my new role. For starters, Telstra is a company that’s very willing to try and take on new technologies. Not only that, but Australians are also quite willing to adopt new technologies faster than other countries.

That puts the work I do and the people I work with in a very unique position: not only is it really interesting, in the end it’s all about how it helps the customer.

It’s fascinating to see the impact your work can have. Back when we were working on 2G technology, mobile consumption wasn’t at the level that it’s at today but it helped lay the groundwork for what followed. Now we see mobile traffic eclipse desktop traffic in some forms.

Drones can now be used for thermal imaging, to search for people at sea or in a forest when it’s dark, we can even look for sharks to keep people safe.

The mobile network of the future we’re developing is what’s going to connect all these things and I’m looking forward to seeing what impact that will have and what groundwork needs to be done for what comes next.

Our response to Rank the Telcos survey

Telstra News

Posted on April 27, 2017

3 min read

Today the Financial and Consumer Rights Council (FCRC) released a report on the way telecommunications companies deal with customers in financial difficulty.

We are disappointed that the report (a survey of financial counsellors) found that financial counsellors ranked the telco industry relatively low in assisting customers in financial hardship against other industries, and ranked Telstra second of the top three providers.

Telstra has a proud history of providing the largest and most extensive offerings in the industry for low income, vulnerable and disadvantaged customers – this equates to more than $2bn in value since 2002.

It is also disappointing to see the report’s statements claim that the telco industry as a whole was more driven by sales than by customer care.

This is certainly not our objective at Telstra, but we acknowledge there are times when we may not get this right and we will continue to work with your teams to ensure they provide the best possible services to customers with financial difficulties.

At Telstra, aggressive sales behaviour is not acceptable. Our focus is on listening to our customers to understand what their needs are, and providing solutions to meet those needs.

And while we do have a range of sales incentives, we also have strong incentives based on the customer experience – not just instore, but whenever our customers need our help.

Our message to our customers is this – we are here to support you, in good times and in bad. If you ever feel like you need some extra time to pay your bill, or not sure if you are eligible for a discount, please call us on 13 22 00.

We know that connection to phone and internet services is vital for all of our customers, especially when they are facing hardship, that’s why we have such an extensive range of assistance programs in place to keep our customers connected.

We will continue to work to improve our services, policies and programs for low income, vulnerable and disadvantaged customers – and we will continue to do this by working with financial counsellors and industry groups to find solutions together.

Telstra’s programs to assist customers facing financial hardship include:

  • Our Access for Everyone programs are designed to assist people on a low income, or facing financial hardship, to maintain access to telecommunications. These include a range of measures to improve affordability of telecommunications including improved billing and pricing options and the Pensioner Discount Scheme.
  • We have a Specialised Assistance Team who help customers who are experiencing financial hardship. When a customer enters into the program, there is no set timeframe of how long a customer can stay in the program.
  • We also have a direct, dedicated hotline for financial counsellors to access our specialist assistance team and have a strong track record of keeping our customers connected to their essential services.
  • Our CEO meets twice a year with representatives from key consumer groups, including Financial Counselling Australia, and we also hold a Financial Hardship Forum every six months with financial counsellors to ensure we understand what is happening in the community and to allow for Telstra to receive any feedback for areas of opportunity.

 

Tags: news,

Update on post flood cleanup in Lismore, NSW

Telstra News

Posted on April 11, 2017

2 min read

The floodwaters that have hit northern NSW in the wake of Cyclone Debbie are the worst in 40 years.

Our network has held up well in the midst of this devastation, but we know there is a long road ahead to re-connect our impacted customers

What has made me particularly proud as I have toured the impacted area is the way we are supporting our customers.

It’s clear that Lismore is determined to rebuild and our Northern NSW team has been on the ground doing its part to help our customers get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

We know how important it is that businesses re-open as soon as possible and we have mobilised field teams from across the country  to help with the recovery effort.

Their efforts have been incredible and it shows the importance of our local knowledge and our commitment to the communities in which our teams live and work.

Chris Munro is one of the technicians I speak of. This recovery effort has been very personal for him – he is a Lismore local — and knows many of our impacted customers.

Chris’s professionalism is testament to the way we approach the challenges we face as we assist in the recovery effort.

He has business owners singing his praises, after re-connecting a hairdresser and a takeaway burger store before power was even restored.

I am also incredibly proud our TCW teams who have been on the front line working with our customers and operating mobile stores in Lismore and Murwillumbah.

We know there will be tough times ahead as the city rebuilds, but we will stand with our customers and continue to go above and beyond until the recovery process is complete.

 

Tags: news,

Impacts to Telstra services caused by Tropical Cyclone Debbie

featured Telstra News

Posted on March 28, 2017

2 min read

As a born and bred North Queenslander I know firsthand the devastating effect a natural disaster like Tropical Cyclone Debbie can have on a community.

We have been preparing for Debbie’s arrival for the past week and have a number of extra resources ready to go in the area, including three Cell on Wheels to provide enhanced mobile coverage; a Mobile Exchange on Wheels; a mobile store on wheels, additional portable generators; and other equipment including Wi-Fi hotspots and additional satellite phones.

Local teams are preparing to visit evacuation centres when it is safe, and have collected a range of phone chargers, interim devices and spare SIM cards to distribute to customers.

As soon as the Emergency Services declare it’s safe our field technicians will be working as fast as they can to restore services and I’d like to assure our customers in the area we will be doing everything we can to restore their services as quickly as possible.

This will be a big task and I thank them for their patience.

Once Cyclone Debbie passes, the biggest impact to our customers’ services in North Queensland will be the loss of A/C mains power. Our network sites – exchange buildings and mobile bases stations – need power to operate.

Our core network sites have generators powered by diesel fuel and all of our sites have back-up batteries. The back-up batteries have a finite time span and we’ll need A/C mains power to be restored before we can get all customers back online.

Due to the severity of the Cyclone and without knowing the full impact, A/C power restoration could take a number of days.

The heavy rain generated by the Cyclone will also cause flash flooding and this is expected to damage Telstra’s underground cables which feed a number of services. Even though our mobile towers are cyclone rated, there is a risk debris caused by the extreme winds could damage equipment, including the antennae on the mobile towers.

Our customers can stay updated on the cyclone’s impact on our services on the Telstra Crowd Support Page.

 

 

Tags: news,