ACCAN, the Australian Financial Counselling and Credit Reform Association (AFCCRA), and CHOICE are campaigning to get rid of unfair charges incurred by consumers for simply paying their bills.
Once upon a time, it cost nothing to pay a bill, regardless of how you paid it. Nowadays, usage charges are bumped up by a plethora of add-ons: account keeping fees, payment admin fees, merchant surcharge fees, late payment fees, paper billing fees, direct debit fees, and so on.
- Telstra have dropped the unfair fees!
- Hundreds of consumers have opposed ‘pay to pay’ fees
Once upon a time, it cost nothing to
pay a bill, regardless of how you paid it. Nowadays, usage charges are bumped
up by a plethora of add-ons: account keeping fees, payment admin fees, merchant
surcharge fees, late payment fees, paper billing fees, direct debit fees, and
It might be common but it's still unfair.
Pay-to-pay fees affect us all but
are particularly bad news for people on low incomes. Every dollar counts when
your only source of income is a pension. Low income people are also more
vulnerable to being charged a late payment fee – another type of fee with a
very poor underlying justification.
We spent days wading through websites, waiting on hold to customer service, and sifting through conflicting and incomplete publicly available information to try and understand the pay-to-pay charges levied by the 10 largest telcos.
Here’s an example of what it costs (as at January 2010) to pay a bill using cash or cash equivalent (such as from your savings account) at Australia Post:
- Telstra doesn’t charge an additional fee
- Optus charges an extra $0.55 (and will be rising to $1.30 in May 2010)
- Vodafone charges an extra $1.50 +GST
- Three – owned by Vodafone Hutchison Australia, the same as Vodafone – charges an extra $1.00+GST
- AAPT charges an extra $2.00
- Soul, GoTalk, and Primus apply an account keeping fee for those not on direct debit - effectively penalising customers who pay at the post office somewhere between $2.00- $2.50; and
- Dodo and Virgin don’t allow you to pay through the post office at all.
We don't believe that these fees reflect the actual cost of allowing customers to pay their bills. It's time for telcos to remove these charges for cash and cash-equivalent payments.
ACCAN is continuing to challenge unfair fees in its advocacy work. Watch this space for future updates.
Clicking on the name of each telco listed below will generate an email to their Customer Service department, replicating what we’ve asked for in our Christmas card to the company CEO.
All you have to do is click on the link, add your name at the bottom of the email, and press send.
Specifically we have asked:
- Optus to remove their $0.55 fee for paying at the post office and $2.20 fee for selected fixed broadband, home phone and Pay TV customers who opt not to take direct debit. Correction: Optus does not have a 1 per cent surcharge for direct debits from bank accounts as previously stated. (Optus told us there was no customer service email address, and wouldn't provide another contact - so please take the time to fill out the webform);
- GoTalk to remove the $2 fee for non direct-debit account and $1.00 fee for paying at the post office;
- Soul to remove the $2 fee for non direct-debit accounts, $0.80 fee for paying at the post office, $0.80 fee for payments from a bank account including direct debit;
- AAPT to remove the $2.00 fee that applies to non direct-debit accounts and $2.00 fee to pay at the post office;
- Dodo to remove the $1.10 fee that applies to accounts paid by direct-debit from bank accounts;
- Primus to remove the $2.50 fee that applies to non direct-debit accounts;
- Vodafone Hutchison Australia to remove the $1.50+ GST fee for paying Vodafone accounts at the post office and the $1.00+GST fee for paying Three accounts at the post office.
What we’ve achieved:
In December 2009 ACCAN, AFCCRA and CHOICE sent the Top 10 telcos a Christmas card, asking them to show a little seasonal goodwill and remove these unfair charges. Download a copy below.
In March 2010, Telstra revoked its
new $2.20 administration fee in light of sustained public opposition to
many felt was ‘double-dipping’. Congratulations to all consumers who
stand and emailed Telstra using the ACCAN Christmas card template. Your
was heard and the unfair fee has been abolished, for now.
Unfortunately for consumers, Telstra was simply a late comer to the cash cow of what we are calling ‘pay-to-pay’ fees. Currently, all other providers still charge fees to receive paper-bills, as detailed above.
Hundreds of protest emails have already been sent to other telcos, but none of them saw fit to respond to us. Read some of the feedback ACCAN received about this campaign in our news section.