Telstra agrees to pay $50 million fine for exploiting Indigenous consumers

Written on the 7 April 2021 by NITV News

Telstra has vowed to take action and make meaningful change, appearing in court over 'unconsciousable' sales to First Nations consumers.

Telstra has agreed to a resolution with the consumer watchdog the ACCC for a $50 million dollar fine over unconscionable conduct against more than 100 Indigenous customers.

The telco giant faced court this week over the sale of mobile contracts to First Nations consumers who did not understand the deals and could not pay for them between 2016 and 2018.

Telstra admitted the company does not always get it right after having its Reconciliation Action Plan revoked this week.

Earlier this week, Telstra's chief executive Andrew Penn said sometimes large organisations made 'mistakes'.

"I'm deeply disappointed that we have let Indigenous Australians down, it is not okay," he said in a video statement.

"We should have been more attuned, we should have listened harder to what was happening because we could have picked this up earlier," Mr Penn said.

"It is heart-breaking to learn that when you think you're helping, in fact the exact opposite is happening."

After the court hearing, Telstra said being a responsible business for customers and the community was non-negotiable.

"We have been working hard to ensure that our actions, processes and practices properly reflect our purpose and our values," said the company.

Consumer advocates push for stronger government action
The Consumer Action Law Centre said it had helped Indigenous clients in Victoria who had faced serious issues with telecommunications providers.

"I do think the ACCC action is indicative of a  wider problem within the industry," the centre's Director of Policy and Campaigns, Katherine Temple said.

She will be seeking stronger government action to implement tighter rules for the industry.

"We do need to see some better behaviour," Ms Temple said.

"We also need to see the government and the industry step up, the government has gone missing on this issue."

The court has not yet decided whether the penalty will be appropriate.

"This would be one of the biggest fines for breaches of consumer law in history, however we know teleco companies make millions from this misconduct," she said.

 

By Stephanie Corsetti

Source: NITV News1 APR 2021


Author: NITV News

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