Telstra ignored customers rights to retain their phone numbers – $1.5M fine

Mobile phone

Telstra ignored customers rights to transfer their landline number to or from other Telcos. More than 42,000 of its customers, sorry ex-customers, lost their phone number – their digital lifeline.

The ACMA found that Telstra unilaterally cancelled transfer requests and stopped accepting new requests from late March to around October 2020. There was no prior warning to customers or other telcos – just stony silence as Telstra blithely and conveniently ignored desperate pleas to port user’s numbers.

Its pathetic response was that COVID-19-related impacted on its offshore operations. Well, every other Telco, MVNO, CSP or whatever had such issues and managed to look after their customers.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said Telstra’s actions had wide-reaching and lengthy impacts on residential and business consumers, as well as the broader Telco industry.

Australian consumers must have the freedom to change their telco provider to take up services that best suit their needs. This includes keeping your phone number even if you take your business elsewhere. Local number porting is important for consumers and supports a competitive telco sector.”

The ACMA also gave Telstra a formal direction to comply with the Local Number Portability Industry Code. Should Telstra fail to comply with the direction, it could face court-imposed penalties of $250,000 per contravention.

GadgetGuy’s take

Do you own your landline or mobile phone number or not? Of course, you do. Telstra ignored customers rights. Since 1997 number portability regulations ensure service continuity for consumers changing telcos and facilitating telco competition.

Telstra didn’t even reject it – it ignored the request completely

Local number portability requires the telco ‘losing’ the customer to relinquish the customer’s number to the ‘gaining’ telco. This means residential and business consumers do not have to experience the unnecessary impact of changing telephone numbers when moving to a new provider.

As one of the affected, I lost a landline number that I had used for years. It was a major inconvenience, and now this makes sense. Neither my new provider nor myself could contact Telstra. The nations biggest Telco behaved very badly – Telstra ignored customers rights. All it got was a petty cash fine and wrist-slap. Remaining Telstra customers should seriously consider changing to a provider that won’t ignore you. When will Telstra learn that the law is the law – it is not a law unto itself.

If you want to read of GadgetGuy’s less than satisfactory experiences that lead to an unreconcilable divorce with Telstra, they are here. If you want to read about my two-year struggle with Telstra to get a reliable NBN connection read about Trials and Tribulations here.