Telstra will no longer offer third-party mobile subscriptions to its customers from 3 December, addressing customer concerns about unexpected charges on their bills.
These charges typically relate to subscription purchases of content like mobile games, apps, and videos, which involve recurrent charges on a weekly or monthly basis.
“Last year, we directed service providers to improve the sign-up process for these services by introducing a double opt-in for subscription content purchased when browsing the web on mobile devices,” a Telstra statement explained.
“Telstra was the first telco to require this and the change aligned with the double opt-in process already in place for Premium SMS content. We also set up a team specifically trained to help customers with questions about these services.
“While these steps helped, some customers have continued to tell us they receive subscription charges for content that they don’t believe they signed up for, so we have taken this extra step.
“Third-party service providers will no longer be permitted to charge new mobile content subscriptions to our customers’ bills.
“Customers will be free to purchase subscription mobile content using alternative payment methods, however, the current arrangement where a customer can elect to purchase a subscription for third-party content and charge it to their Telstra bill, will end.”
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) welcomed Telstra’s announcement and is calling for Optus to follow suit.
An ACCAN survey found that as many as 1.9 million Australians have found unexpected third party charges on their phone bills in the previous six months.
ACCAN Chief Executive Teresa Corbin says “consumers have had to put up with these unexpected charges far too long and we urge Optus to follow Telstra’s lead”.
“We congratulate Telstra on stepping up and taking action to stop their customers from getting slugged by unwanted third-party subscriptions,” she said.
“Our survey found that there is a significant lack of awareness amongst consumers with just under 50 per cent of respondents being aware that they could have third-party services charged to their phone bills,” added Ms Corbin.
“The way the system is set up, consumers have to opt-out of these services, otherwise their phone is like an unsecured credit card and people have no idea what they’re being charged for.
“Consumers should remain vigilant and look out for any unexpected text messages they receive about third party services. They should reply STOP to any text messages they are unsure about and regularly check their bills for any unexpected charges.”
Have you been slugged with third-party subscription charges you don’t believe you signed up for? What did you do about it?