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ACCC investigating Telstra for selling “unaffordable” contracts

The ACCC is investigating Telstra for selling "unaffordable" contracts. Source: Getty

Australia’s consumer watchdog has confirmed in a statement that it is investigating Telstra for selling “unaffordable contracts” to vulnerable Aussies.

"The ACCC [Australian Competition and Consumer Commission] is investigating allegations involving Telstra Corporation Ltd regarding its selling practices associated with the supply of mobile phones, plans and ancillary goods and services to some vulnerable Indigenous Australian people,” the statement said.

The ACCC said the assessment of the alleged conduct was “ongoing”, and it was looking into whether Telstra breached consumer law for mis-selling phone contracts.

"Conduct impacting Indigenous Australians is an enduring priority for the ACCC,” it said.

Earlier today the ABC reported it “learned of dozens” of examples across Australia where Telstra customers on Centrelink benefits had been sold contracts costing up to a whopping $250 per month.

On top of that, those customers were being slapped with excess data charges, and racking up bills of over $1000.

A Broome financial counsellor, Alan Gray, told the ABC Telstra’s head office was at fault for instructing their sales staff to sign up poorer people to unaffordable contracts.

"Telstra don't seem to listen when people say 'I can't afford this',” he said.

Gray said it’s becoming an epidemic too, with what started as a dribble of one or two clients now a “flood of people”.

"My client walks out of the store thinking the $200 will pay for everything but to their horror a month or two later, they get a bill in the mail for $2,000 or $3,000, or even $4,000 of excess data,” he told the ABC.

That debt was then sold off to a debt collection agency, which usually threatens legal action.

But, even after getting Telstra to waive 26 customers’ debt last year, Gray said Telstra had done nothing to reform its sales policies.

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