money & Banking

Joanita Wibowo

Aussie mum's shock as she opens Telstra phone bill for $465,000

Aussie mum's shock as she opens Telstra phone bill for $465,000

A Western Australian woman was left reeling after receiving a monthly phone bill of almost half a million dollars from Telstra.

Mother-of-three Karen usually has to set aside $400 a month for her family’s phone and internet plan – but her bill in April said that she owed Telstra an astronomical $465,595.23.

Speaking to A Current Affair, Karen said she did not think her family could have managed to use that much data to incur such a high bill.

“Has it been hacked? How has it actually managed to do that much data download without bursting into flames?” she questioned.

According to tech expert Trevor Long, the family would need to spend nearly 4.5 million hours on Facebook or stream 30,000 movies in a month to push the bill to that level.

“I think if there was actually that much traffic going through your home network… I don’t think the average home router or home network could cope with it,” Long told A Current Affair.

Karen said she struggled with having the bill corrected for a month. After failing to make any headway with the customer call centre, she went to her local Telstra shop in Bunbury.

Sales representative Robbie said it was “absolutely a mistake” due to a system misalignment.

However, in the bill for the following month, Karen found that the mistake had not been corrected. The outstanding balance still rolled over and added into her next bill, resulting in a total of $466,000.

“Their billing process failed, their technology failed, their customer service definitely failed, and their management have failed,” she said.

Following the show’s report, Telstra’s group executive for consumer and small business, Michael Ackland, apologised “unreservedly” and confirmed that Karen’s massive bill was incorrect.

“There were two issues – there was a system glitch error that created the original problem, and then human error to not pick it up as quick as we possibly could,” he said.

“[Karen] should ignore that bill, because it takes a little bit of time for the billing systems to process the removal, and we have confirmed with her in writing that all those charges are removed and she should ignore them.”