Thodey: Telstra customer service "not good enough"

Scraps $2.20 over-the-counter bill payment penalty fee

Telstra has done an about face on its decision to charge customers for paying their bills over-the-counter, scrapping the penalty $2.20 fee and promising to credit customers who have had to already pay the fee.

Telstra CEO David Thodey said it could take up to three months to implement the necessary changes to the company’s billing system, however, any bill payment fees paid by customers during that time and since the new charge was first introduced on 14 September 2009 would be credited the money back.

Thodey said the fee had been designed in a way that exempted more than a million elderly, pensioners and disadvantaged people but was still unacceptable to many of its customers.

“I believe encouraging our customers to pay their bills electronically is the right thing to do. Right for our customers, right for the environment and right for our business,” he said at the company’s AGM. “However I made a mistake...we should not have implemented this change in the way we did, and so I have decided to scrap the charge.”

Telstra was now faced with finding ways in which it could encourage customers to take advantage of electronic payments, Thodey said, with the possible introduction of optional electronic-only plans.

The about-face follows related comments from Thodey acknowledging that Telstra needed to do more to services its customers.

“The bottom line is this: Our customer service is not good enough and must improve,” he said.

He said the company had moved to address the issue through the establishment of an ‘Office of the Customer’; setting new standards for customer responsiveness and complaints; making every employee personally responsible for improving customer service; setting company wide target for customer service; and re-engineering and simplifying core processes.

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