Are Telstra liable to reimburse us? Anyone else been ripped off?

Short version of events:

Telstra advised us that they could provide Internet access to our new address (new subdivision), but we would have to pay to have the line between the building and the Telstra pit put in and internal infrastructure to the residence also. This was at our cost. Only after Telstra confirmed they could provide the requested Internet service did we agree to outlay the cost and put in the physical infrastructure on our side. Because Telstra couldn’t put in the connection straight away and had to have some works completed first we continued our Telstra service from the previous address to ensure smooth transition and reduced possibility of loss of data (email), etc.

HOWEVER, after the connection date, and us reporting we had no Internet service Telstra advised they couldn’t provide said service… From that point they still intended to charge us the $300 connection fee and landline fee, and then stuffed up and disconnected that address service and reconnected the previous address service (without our permission or request) and also sent us another $300 invoice for the second connection and new landline subscription charges…

Is Telstra liable to reimburse us for the expenses (approx. $700) we outlaid in putting in the infrastructure for a landline that we have no intention of using/no use for whatsoever, and for the extended subscription post mid Aug to mid Nov that we continued our previous service address connection (approx. $200)? Note we don’t expect Telstra to be liable for other internet based subscriptions we also maintained but I make the point that we couldn’t utilise (such as Netflix).

Where do we stand? Can we take Telstra to the small claims court in our jurisdiction (NT)?

Long story:
July - We explicitly went in to a local Tshop to clarify whether Telstra could or could not provide us Internet service at our new rural address (recent subdivision without telecommunication service to front of property - but neighbours have) we were about to relocate too. I stress that we specifically asked for Internet service ONLY and explained to Tshop assistant that we DID NOT want nor need a landline as we use mobiles (I know - how very 21st century of us…). After Tshop assistant argues that there is service to address, because their system says so and they could sign us up there and then, I convince Tshop assistant to Google earth address and point out where exactly the ‘Telstra pit’ is (that apparently I’m unable to see). Result - Hmmm, can’t see said pit, need to have a Telstra field officer attend to confirm pit existence. Further to this visit, we were contacted by another Telstra rep to connect us with another area of Telstra to organise the visit of a field service officer to confirm this lack of connectivity. Appointment made (time taken from work to attend). Field officer attends and lo and behold, no pit. However does note service is to neighbouring property. Telstra advise they can provide requested service to our address, and will have physical infrastructure put in place - but we need to have physical infrastructure placed in to our property to connect to their pit and have landline outlet in residence. A case was commenced on 15th Aug 2016 for this work. Telstra advise I also need to meet with another Telstra field officer (I think this one was a sub-contractor?). More time taken from work to attend another appointment. This Telstra representative advises he will be doing Telstra pit work (trenching, etc), asked me where the most convenient place at the front of the residence was for the pit (least disturbance to front garden) and also advised me again that we had to organise putting in place the connection from the pit to our residence. He said he could do it at the same time that he did the Telstra side work and as Telstra had told us that we could get the service we requested we agreed to go ahead with that. We paid this Telstra contractor $300 for the work on our side of the pit. We also had the wiring put in to the residence. Whilst waiting for the service to be connected at the new address we maintained the Telstra account at our other residence to lessen the possibility of loss of email’s etc, and in the hope of making the transition of our service to our new address as smooth and uneventful as possible.

This work occurred just before we went away interstate from mid Sept to mid Oct with the hope that Telstra could finish their side of works required whilst we were away and connect us on our return to the address in mid Oct. Whilst interstate
from mid Sept to mid October I answered/responded to many calls from the Telstra officer who was managing this job at this time, in the endeavour to make this connect possible by our return. Just what you want to do on holiday - waste time communication (waiting on hold) with Telstra.

After requesting a family member drive to the address to confirm the existence of the pit at completion of that work (at Telstra’s request) I advised Telstra we were happy for them to transfer the service over (this is the second week of Oct), however Telstra advised that first a Telstra technician had to come out and test that the line was properly connected within our property. I contacted Telstra on our return to the address in mid October, the earliest appointment Telstra could make was made for a four hour window (between 8am and lunchtime) on 7th Nov. Again I had to use a day of
my annual recreation leave to ensure that I could be home for this 4hr window in which the technician could attend. The service officer did attend on this day in this 4hr window and gave the all clear for the connection. From this point I received texts, emails (see email also appended below) and calls from Telstra advising that our address would be connected, to the service we requested, on Monday 14th Nov - texts received in this time period are as

8 Nov: “Hi Kelle, I have sent you an email to to give you a quick update about your move. If you have any questions, please reply to this SMS or the email we have sent you. Regards Santosh”

8 Nov: “Hi Santosh, thank-you. Can I clarify - is this move for our internet account? Also, did my husband talk to you about getting a modem? Kelle”

Telstra then sent an email (see email also appended below). This email advised that Jane would be the new Telstra rep managing our move.

10 Nov: “Kelle, I see that services are set to be connected on 14/10. I will give you option, you can get the modem at the tshop, because if I will be process one chances are you may not get the modem on the day of the connection or there may be a delay. Which do you prefer? -jane”

10 Nov: “Prefer to collect from the Tshop please - my husband will go in to the Palmerston store tomorrow if that is suitable? Thanks, Kelle”

10 Nov: “Okay Kelle, please be advise the move should be ADSL. Thanks!-jane”.

For some reason Telstra also contacted us on 8 Nov advising us that there was already a service connected at the new address (maybe the local kangaroos had requested it!!!) and we needed to provide ‘Proof of Occupancy Documentation’…? Again Telstra took much of my time clearing Telstra’s error up - interestingly the email
noted our new landline number would be 08 8988 9455 which was not denoted on either of the accounts Telstra subsequently sent us post the ‘connection’ date (don’t know what Telstra did there?).

On the 14th of Nov I returned home in the afternoon with the belief that the internet would be connected at the new address. Sadly it was not… When it still wasn’t connected the following morning 15 Nov I sent the following text to four
mobile numbers, which I had been receiving Telstra communications from, regarding this move first thing in the morning:

“Hi Jane/Santosh, I’m still waiting for the move to occur - still no internet . Could you please contact me to discuss? Thanks, Kelle”

On 16 Nov I finally received a text response from Jane: “Good day Kelle, its Jane from Telstra. I got an update for yur move order, sad to say that we are not able to provide ADSL internet service at the address due to ports available, we can only provide home phone service, are you going to keep your home phone? I tried checking for Cable not available too, please reply to this sms for confirmation. Cheers!”

I text back straight away: “Hi Jane, please call me to discuss”

Jane replied: “Hi Kelle, I will call you tomorrow, I tried calling back but no answer. I’m sorry I was engage with a different customer and we just had a meeting. I am available Mondays to Fridays, 10:30 AM to 6:30 PM AEST. Many Thanks!”

I didn’t have a missed call from Jane for this day I replied: “Okay, will catch up tomorrow. Thank you”

17th Nov, after not hearing from Jane, I rang the 1800 number about midday and after waiting on hold and in queue for another lengthy period a Telstra service officer advised me that Jane could not take my call at that time but that she would ring me back next, within the hour was the time given. After waiting all day for Jane to call, she eventually called me not long after I left work for the day and was driving the 45mins it takes me to get home. As soon as I saw Jane was trying to call me I pulled over and at this time Jane sent me a text “Hello Kelle, Jane here. I tried calling you but no answer. We are not able to provide you internet service at the new address due to no ports available? Are you going to keep the home phone? Please reply, thanks!”. When I tried to return Jane’s call on the number she called me with I got the message that my call could not be connected. So I text Jane on the number “After waiting hours for you to contact me I have left work and am driving… I’m now pulled over so can you call me please.” I waited and waited… After 10mins I text Jane again “Jane I’ve been sitting on the roads edge for 10mins awaiting your call, wasting my fuel and time (again), can you at least text me if you cannot ring me now so that I can get on with my day and not be waiting at your beck and call (again), please?”. I waited another 10mins but received no response from Jane.

I did eventually talk to Jane. She basically said good luck on maybe going on a ‘wait list’, that we should try other ISPs (but would not give us a list of which ISPs might service our area), and told me that a ‘colleague’ would ring me in the next day or two to sort out the financial issues I raised with her (the items I’ve noted for reimbursement).

I never did get that call from her ‘colleague’. I’ve since spent countless hours on hold to get to the bottom of this debacle with Telstra, including asking to make a formal complaint and for my issue to be escalated. I kept being put back to Jane, who kept telling me that her ‘colleague’ would ring me (again I stupidly waited by the phone for hours to ensure I could discuss) - and no call came. In the meantime Telstra are advising us that we have several bills outstanding with them for $700+ (the two connections and landline subscriptions, as well as the last mid Oct to mid Nov bill we’ve refused to pay). I eventually had my complaint escalated - now the higher level manager Eric is advising me has ‘fixed’ all the problems, although my online account information kept telling me it was still $700+. I think he has finally on the second or third attempt sorted the two connection, etc fees out. But won’t address my request for reimbursement, won’t explain how Telstra made a new connection to the old address without any request or permission of the owner, won’t agree to withdraw the mid Oct to mid Nov outstanding invoice of approx. $90, and hasn’t apologised at all for Telstra’s actions in this entire mess. In fact Eric has advised me that it was our responsibility to put in the works on our side of the pit and that Telstra couldn’t advise if they could provide the Internet service until they had a request, which they couldn’t process until we had the line connection on our side of the pit!!! At no point were we advised or cautioned that Telstra might not be able to provide the internet service we were requesting - from the start we cautiously approached them to clarify if we could get the service before outlaying for the cost of something which is now of absolutely no use. We subsequently contacted several alternative telecoms seeking Internet service, including providing credit card details and having large portions of $$ frozen by them, only to be told there were no ports available(thankfully $$ was released again - but not ideal at Christmas time). Eventually we’ve given up and gone with a mobile option (which does not require a landline connection), but is obviously more expensive. This is at an address that is only 30mins outside of Darwin in the NT…

Any advice or help is gratefully appreciated!


Hi @idyllic,

Sorry to hear about the issues with Telstra - how frustrating. We have articles on making a complaint that might be of interest for you.

If you can’t sort it out with Telstra, the typical next step is to go to the ombudsmen for cases like this. Please let us know how you go.


@idyllic If you have a firm quote from Telstra and they have exceeded that quote you may hold them to the original price quoted . As Brendan advised the Ombudsmen may be the way to go in this case . At the moment I’m dealing with the CIO , Credit Investigative Ombudsmen and the Financial Ombudsmen on some business matters not pertaining to Telstra . Just a bit of advice.

Kellie make sure if it gets to the Ombudsmen stage you have your chronology of events in order and your paperwork etc completely backed up and be forceful with them . Lastly good luck I hope it all goes your way .


Yes and do not wait to do that, but also be clear on what the ombudsmen services are and are not. Notice the TIO is a not a or even a in spite of the nice words at and it is funded by guess who?


Thank you vax2000 and TheBBG, it might seem little but advice and support is soothing for a Telstra terrorised soul, lol.

I lodged a complaint with TIO yesterday, and yes, given who their masters are and their executive profile I’m not going to hold my breath. I come from a background of working for a state police for 10 years in intel, so I’m as on top of my chronology and evidence collection as someone can be when Telstra won’t give you anything in writing - including not responding to multiple emails requesting they address my queries and concerns…

I’m also toying with the idea of sending it to ‘The Checkout’ guys (ABC) in case they can do something with it. I’m no doubt going to get screwed by Telstra, so I may as well publicise that as much as possible to bring Telstra all the rotten publicity they obviously deserve. Though I don’t think they care much given that their poor service and attitude is a fairly standard running Aussie joke, isn’t it?


@idyllic I would not hold my breath with the TIO because of my experience with dealing with them . In the 1960’s there was a song called "Puppet on a String " by Sandie Shaw . I think they wrote it about the TIO .


Hi @idyllic

I agree about going to the TIO, and just like the others have said the TIO is industry policing themselves, so don’t hold out too much hope.

In your position, I would write to my Federal Member and provide them with all the information and ask for their help in the matter, and ask them to get in contact with Telstra on your behalf. After all, the Federal Government still owns (I think) about 17% of Telstra. In government enterprises nothing get a higher priority than a ‘Ministerial’, a letter from a Government Minister, except a letter from the Prime Minister. I would expect that the same applies to Telstra.


Your experience is sadly common. You’ll probably find that a solution, if there is one, proves to be political. In other words, involve your Federal member.

Keep detailed records. Every interaction; every question; every answer; every assertion. Dates, times, names - every detail. Telstra has good reasons for not putting anything in writing. From experience, contemporaneous records can be granted substantial legal standing (though you do need to be confident in testifying that the records are contemporaneous - made at the time and not from memory). Audio recordings can help in compiling written records, but don’t rely on them being admissible as evidence.

Telstra and politicians hate publicity. So publish now. Publish widely. Publish repeatedly. The ABC is a good start. Social media also works.

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They tried this sort of thing with me too when I was moving. They checked whether there was service and it was coming up possibly. I checked with other servers online and immediately found out there were no ports available. Not only that the service in this area is terrible because they are putting in the NBN. So I told telstra after many threatening phone calls that they could not complete my contract because they could not provide me with the service they had promised and they didn’t know when they would be able to. I mentioned the ombudsman and that I knew about my contractual rights as a consumer. I also mentioned the accc. I get cranky when people lie or misrepresent themselves and this was clearly what telstra were doing. If every other website could see that there were no ports surely telstra who owns them could without changing me over $100 which is what they were claiming they had to do. I ended up getting the mobile modem from optus that was $80 (because I have my mobile with them) for 250gb and no start up costs plus five top ups for ten dollars if I need them. It is so much easier and reliable and faster than telstra was too. But they could be a pain. I had felt like they were trying to scam me whereas a few years ago they were more honest.

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Thank you dominiquedwards - so good to get this information. Certainly sounds like an M.O. to me…

Telecommunication industry ombudsman - i used them earlier this year, the result was swift and satisfactory.

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Hi all, my grandmother has been going through a hell of a time. She just lost her husband, and as such had to get his name removed from various bills. Every company involved has waived all fees and made the process easy. Except Telstra.

On ringing up to have his name removed from the landline bill (as hers was already on it), she was told she would need a new account and would have to pay a ‘Set up fee.’ Not understanding tech she said yes. And her phone was promptly disconnected. When she asked why she was told she would have to wait “3-5 working days” for it to be connected to the new account. In the meantime she has no landline over Easter and has gone through nearly $100 in mobile recharges (still rising) as a result.

I will be taking her to the Telstra shop on Tuesday seeking reimbursement on the following grounds:

  • Costs were not disclosed upfront at all. On top of this connection fee they generally ask for the first month upfront I understand. If they were not disclosed Telstra should not expect her to pay them.
  • She was not told this would result in over a week without a landline, and as such Telstra should reimburse all costs from having to use the mobile.
  • Her name was already on the bill, so if their system really does require a brand new account, they should be waiving fees anyway.

Any advise on relevant laws or information I can help to further her case would be much appreciated. Thanks team. I’ll have Choice Help if I need them on Tuesday too.


The rep she talked to was clearly not on the job. This might get you started helping her, including for some recompense. Start with asking for ‘the bereavement line’ to see if you can talk to anyone there, or fill out their form and see how that goes if you cannot, including the details with the form if you have to go that route. Since you are not on the contract they might not be willing to speak to you, excepting in generalities, unless your grandmother is present or makes you a formal contact person. It sounds like she might also get a new number so watch for that possibility. Your other option is to go directly to their complaints process that might become your middle-man.

Plz keep us updated as what they have done is ridiculous, and even for Telstra beyond just ordinary.


I will be taking her with me don’t worry. We absolutely want to avoid getting a new number as because of her age, getting everyone her new number is quite a challenge. Telstra should not have needed to change it just for that.


Nor should they have had to make that new account.


Regardless it has happened, so I need to figure out how I can get her money and phone number back, as well as reimbursement for the mobile costs. It’s just a question of how.


It is possible they haven not taken it, but worth asking about at the first opportunity because as you wrote, that is Very Important, as well as the most immediate problem to be resolved, with the financial aspects to follow.


Anyone have any ideas of what consumer law I should be referencing?

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A recent issue I had with Telstra had no clear consumer law to fall back on. One option but not a solution was to close my account, demand the right of beaking contract penalty free due to lack of service, and walk away.

Going into a Telstra shop is really going into an agency. The real Telstra is at arms length. Even their business centres have limitations!

Hopefully the Telstra shop staff person you are directed to is keen to help and knows the system?

It’s likely, as @PhilT advised earlier they will refer you to Telstra’s Bereavement Support team and connect you directly to them or act as an intermediary.

From my experience last year Telstra also have staff who report directly to the Telstra area/regional managers. They have substantially more authority to resolve problems and to approve changes, including compensation. They hide in the secret Telstra offices that have no public access or front counters.

It is likely as you are seeking restitution relating to billing and customer accounts that you will require someone at a higher level than the local Telstra shop to complete the actions you require. Hopefully the Bereavement Support team can solve all. It seems like a very everyday situation transferring an account to the sole name of the other party.

My suggestion is that if you do not get a 100% complete result or fix in writing, before you leave the store do your best to escalate your requirements past the store manger to the real Telstra.

It is always a very difficult time when you loose a partner or close loved one. It may be less stress for her if you can to simply have your Gran provide you with an authority to act on your behalf, if she is willing, and spare dragging her through the detail of dealing with Telstra first hand?

P.s. I’ve been there several times recently and it is hard on all. There are many things that seem urgent at the time that are really not that essential to sort straight away. Telstra and others will continue to do business for some time as though nothing has changed, until you tell them otherwise. So long as the bills are paid, and the estate has not been settled in full.


According to the bereavement support page I can request it in store. At which point I can also get her to authorize me to manage on her behalf. That’s what I’ll do.