Has anyone had problems closing Optus accounts and still being billed months afterwards?
We cancelled our home fixed line + internet package with Optus in June this year after changing to another provider for NBN. Optus continued to bill us for the next two months, eventually refunding us and providing assurance that the account was now definitely closed and we would not be billed again. That worked for a while, and now they are deducting money again (October and December). We have again been reassured that the account is definitely closed and no more money will be taken, but by now we have no confidence in their ability to administer anything.
We have made a formal complaint to them and to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, but is there anything else we can do? The payments are taken via direct debit. Would appreciate hearing if anyone else has encountered and how it was resolved.
Has anyone had problems closing Optus accounts and still being billed months afterwards?
Ask for a reimbursement that is greater than what they debited, as compensation for the amount of time and effort you have had to spend in getting them to do the right thing?
Embarrass them on social media? in yescrowd?
In both of the above be sure to be strictly factual and accurate e.g. documented timeline of events.
Lobby your local member to change banking law so that it is easier for you to cancel the direct debit yourself?
Advise your Bank that you have ceased authorisation for the Direct Debit (DD) to be processed. This may or may not work but send a letter to Optus re the removal of your authority and send a copy of that to your bank with a covering letter. You if a member of CHOICE can avail yourself of CHOICE’s Help Service to get templates of letters to use and who it may be possible to contact:
There is your State’s Office of Fair Trading that may be able to help with getting Optus to stop.
There are a number of posts and topics on this site regarding automatic DDs. See the following as they may have some steps that may be useful in your circumstances.
I would also contact Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) about your issue if the Bank fails to stop the DDs occurring.
"The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) can consider a complaint you have about a banking deposit or payment issue with your financial firm.
Banking deposits and payments include:
- deposits to current accounts and savings accounts
- internet and telephone banking, including mistaken internet payments
- payments, such as direct transfers or direct debits, electronic banking and foreign currency transfers" [my highlighting added]
Thank you, this is very useful.
My mother also had this problem. When she moved house, she was offered a package deal by Optus that included Foxtel for 12 months. When that was over, she signed up for a new deal WITH OPTUS but they kept billing her for the Foxtel that she no longer wanted and didn’t even work any more. Nevertheless Optus was billing her for it years later. She hadn’t realised that she was receiving two separate bills, because they were spaced 2 weeks apart and she also had her mobile service with Optus on a separate bill. The bill didn’t even say it was for Foxtel; if it had she would have realised right away that it should have been cancelled and she would have taken action much earlier. I called Optus to make sure they stopped billing her for the non-existent Foxtel service and hopefully get a refund, but since they said they had no record of her cancelling the service (even though it had been disconnected) they would not give her a refund. I can’t be sure whether they had originally stopped billing, then recommenced some time later, as it had been cancelled so many years ago. Their customer service on this occasion was less than helpful. We tried to get someone in an Optus store to help out, but they could only call the same customer service line that we called, and then put us on the phone. I made a complaint the the Financial Services Ombudsman, but I didn’t hear anything from them, so that was a waste of time.
What happened seems analogous to the banks taking fees for no service, does it not? So it would seem to be financial but Optus is a telecom company.
Your experience is implied as being historical rather than current, but a reason for that could be the TIO might be the proper review, not FOS (now AFCA). See the last paragraph in this document.
One would expect to be directed to the proper agency if a complaint is lodged to an improper one, but as with many government ‘oversights’ they are pigeon holed in many respects and understaffed and under resourced in others so it is firmly on us to work through the maze and persevere.
I cancelled my Optus service over five years ago and had to call them month after month to refund the direct debit. Eventually, I called my bank and was able to block Optus from drawing money out of my account. Sad to see that they still have not changed their way. I am now very careful about who gets a direct debit authorisation, definitely no telecom company.
When dealing with the likes of the lying, theiving, incompetent grubs at Optus, unless you treat them with the level of contempt they so richly deserve, they will attempt to continue to rip you off as it is their modus operandi.
To this end, I have included a copy of a letter from another “happy” Optus customer which our solicitor forwarded to me many years ago as well as a copy of the letter which I sent to them back in 2005.
Unhappy Customer Letter.
"This is an Actual Complaint Letter Received at Optus
I have been an Optus customer since 9th July 2001, when I signed up for your 3-in-one deal for cable TV, cable modem, and telephone. During this three-month period I have encountered inadequacy of service which I had not previously considered possible, as well as ignorance and stupidity of monolithic proportions.
Please allow me to provide specific details, so that you can either pursue your professional perogative and seek to rectify these difficulties - or, more likely I suspect, so that you can have some entertaining reading material as you while away the working day smoking B&H and drinking vendor-coffee on the bog in your office:
My initial installation was cancelled without warning or notice, resulting in my spending an entire Saturday sitting on my fat arse waiting for your technician to arrive.
When he did not arrive at all, I spent a further 57 minutes on my mobile phone listening to your infuriating hold music, and the even more annoying Scottish robot woman telling me to look at your helpful website… er, how exactly when my modem has been disconnected? I alleviated the boredom to some small degree by playing with my testicles for a few minutes - an activity at which you are no-doubt both familiar and highly adept.
The rescheduled installation then took place some two weeks later, although the technician did forget to bring a number of vital tools - such as a drill-bit, and his cerebrum. Two weeks later, my cable modem had still not arrived. After several further telephone calls (actually 15 telephone calls over 4 weeks) my modem arrived… a total of six weeks after I had requested it, and begun to pay for it.
I estimate that the downtime of your internet servers is roughly 35%…these are usually the hours between about 6pm and midnight, Monday to Friday, and most of the useful periods over the weekend.
I am still waiting for my telephone connection. I have made 9 telephone calls on my mobile to your no-help line this week, and have been unhelpfully transferred to a variety of disinterested individuals, who are it seems also highly skilled bollock jugglers. I have been informed that a telephone line is available (and someone will call me back); that no telephone line is available (and someone will call me back); that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a
telephone line is available (and then been cut off); that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been redirected to an answer machine informing me that your office is closed); that I will be transferred to someone who knows
whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been redirected to the irritating Scottish robot woman…and several other variations on this theme.
Doubtless you are no-longer reading this letter, as you have at least a thousand other dissatisfied customers to ignore, and also another one of those crucially important testicle-moments to attend to. Frankly I don’t care, it’s far more satisfying as a customer to voice my frustrations in print than to shout them at your unending hold music. Forgive me, therefore, if I continue.
I thought Telstra were shit, that they had attained the holy piss-pot of god-awful customer relations, that no-one, anywhere, ever, could be more disinterested, less helpful or more obstructive to delivering service to their customers. That’s why I chose Optus, and because, well, there isn’t anyone else is there? How surprised I therefore was, when I discovered to my considerable dissatisfaction and disappointment what a useless shower of bastards you truly are. You are sputum-filled pieces of distended rectum - incompetents of the highest order. Telstra - wankers though they are - shine like brilliant beacons of success, in the filthy puss-filled mire of your seemingly limitless inadequacy.
Suffice to say that I have now given up on my futile and foolhardy quest to receive any kind of service from you. I suggest that you do likewise, and cease any potential future attempts to extort payment from me for the services which you have so pointedly and catastrophically failed to deliver - any such activity will be greeted initially with hilarity and disbelief - although these feelings will quickly be replaced by derision, and even perhaps a small measure of bemused rage.
I enclose two small deposits, selected with great care from my cats litter tray, as an expression of my utter and complete contempt for both you and your pointless company. I sincerely hope that they have not become desiccated during transit - they were satisfyingly moist at the time of
posting, and I would feel considerable disappointment if you did not experience both their rich aroma and delicate texture. Consider them the very embodiment of my feelings towards Optus, and it’s worthless employees.
Have a nice day - may it be the last in your miserable short life, you irritatingly incompetent and infuriatingly unhelpful bunch of twats.
And my letter.
Optus Billing Services,
PO Box 65,
St Leonards, NSW 1590.
Singtel Optus Pty Ltd
101 Miller Street,
North Sydney, NSW, 2060.
Ref Acc No XXXXXX
Following the highly successful installation of Bigpond ADSL Broadband on all of our new internet kiosks, we also converted our existing internet kiosks to Telstra, as we had previously already done so with our business and family mobile and fixed line services, so that we had no further use of your services.
I was delighted to forward to you our cheque for the sum of $27.50 in full and final settlement, happy in the knowledge that it would be the very last payment that any of our business interests, family members or relatives would ever be making to you.
Attached is a copy of the memo I sent to you in February advising that the above account was to be closed as of 21.02.2005 and that the previous balance of $15.56 was to be credited as per the attached copies of emails dating back to August 2003.
You obviously received my memo as you actually managed to bank the cheque, which was stapled to it, but you presumably considered it to be too much trouble to cancel the account or to clear the outstanding balance.
Upon receiving the next invoice no. CB-9948240 on 03.03.2005 which included the outstanding balance of $15.56 plus a further month’s charges, I telephoned the “Bill Enquiries” number 1300 300 314 printed on the form.
I was informed that I had called the wrong department and was eventually transferred to another department. I spoke with a Greg who assured me that all the charges would be credited that day.
Imagine my surprise when the latest invoice no. CB-10434772 arrived last week, on which not only had the previous charges not been credited, but a further month’s charges had also been added.
In summary, your staff has failed to apply a credit of $15.56, which they had agreed to in 2003, failed to cancel an account despite receiving written authorization to do so, and failed to credit these charges despite stating that it would be carried out on 03.03.2005.
I am now left to wonder whether you select your employees purely based on some inherent propensity for incompetence, or whether they have to undertake additional training to achieve this level of stupidity.
Perhaps it is merely an attempt to try to rip off customers with illegal charges so as to bolster your profitability in order to try to impress your masters in Singapore as you approached the end of you masters’ financial year on 31.03.2005.
Whatever the reason, I require the immediate cancellation of this account and the crediting in full of all charges.
In the event that this is not carried out, I will be both taking legal action against your company and bringing your incompetence or dishonesty to the attention of the media.
Furthermore, should the incompetence or disinterest of your employees in relation to the crediting these incorrect charges result in any attempt to blacklist my company or myself with a credit reporting agency, as per my previous experience with Optus, I will also be taking all appropriate action including filing a formal complaint with the Federal Privacy Commissioner.
Not only have we found Telstra to be very helpful in our dealings with them, but also, in start contrast to Optus, they have also been prepared to admit when they have made an error, to rectify any such error, and to recompense us for any losses their error has caused."
Late on the Friday that I sent my letter to Optus, some female rang my mobile claiming I had just ordered a prostitute and then started swearing at me, and the background noise sounded like a pub.
She was obviously pre-qualified to work at Optus and the truth apparently hurt.
Needless to say, I had no more problems with the grubs.
How do you know? It was forwarded to you from another party. It may make entertaining reading but with no better provenance it is just hearsay.
What have cats ever done to deserve this abuse?
I had dreadful issue with optus, bought an iPad on an optus deal but optus had zero coverage in that area. Paid the first month…never got it back, but the kept harassing me. Thankfully I had not a debit set up,…I never do that.
I phoned and would take me say 4 hours online waiting and pushed along then no solution, phone hung up or whatever. Finally went to an optus centre and the guy there got thru. I would go to an optus shop in person.
I would change the card if the direct debit is thru a card. Good luck, they are vile people, and you are not the first.
The bank must stop your direct debits if you instruct them to do so in writing. In reality, this looks like:
Front line staff who ignorantly tell you they can’t/don’t do that
The bank telling you that you have to speak to the creditor first.
Nope. Either ask to speak to the manager, ask for a form for you to fill in or sign or lodge a written complaint if neither are an option for you.
And yeah, always ask for compensation if money goes missing later. With your authority revoked in writing, there may be grounds to accuse them of theft.
Respectfully, “I didn’t hear anything from them” is rarely a valid complaint - or reason to give up/write it off as a waste of time. It’s always our obligation to follow up on our complaints, to ensure clerical or human error hasn’t disrupted anything and indeed to ensure we are compensated if due dates have been exceeded.
Giving up because someone else didn’t call/email back is on the person giving up, not the creditor/ombudsman.
For clarity and to avoid misunderstanding, there are differences under law between direct debits to bank accounts and direct debits to credit cards.
A synopsis is that a direct debit to a bank account can be cancelled by notifying the bank and it is correct that any bank staff stating otherwise is either ignorant or lazy. It is a ‘one letter’ process.
OTOH a direct debit to a credit card account has to be handled differently as explained at moneyhelp. It becomes a ‘two letter’ process with a potential follow up to charge back unauthorised debits. The important text is
To cancel a direct debit on a credit card account, you should first write to the organisation with whom you have established a direct debit, instructing them to cancel the arrangement and send a copy to your financial institution. If the debits continue you can then request your financial institution to reverse the transaction as it is unauthorised.
Often direct debits from a credit card are linked to a contract for goods or services which you have purchased and it may be a term of the contract that you pay in this way. You could therefore be in breach of your contract and should seek legal advice before doing this.
So far we have complained in writing (online form) to Optus and they have not responded in the stated 2 working days. We’re in watch and wait mode there. We have received a response from the TIO and will follow their instructions in due course.
We have written to our bank requesting them to cancel the direct debit and are waiting for confirmation from them that this has happened.
Will update as we go…
You should be able to cancel your direct debit with your bank. Maybe threaten to take your business elsewhere if your bank won’t play. You seem to have done all the right things re Telecommunications Ombudsman.
I assume that the Optus phone and internet was not subject to a contract term…but month by month. If this is the case, it is important to inform the bank this is the case to ensure they don’t get the impression the cancellation will result a breach of contract between you and Optus.
I am happy to be corrected, but surely that is none of the bank’s business? While I may have transferred my payment arrangements to another bank, or I may be defaulting on a contract, the bank’s only concern is to manage my money in accordance with legislation, its rules and my instructions.
We were in a no lock-in deal with Optus (after many years with them) so no problem there. The main issue is that despite us cancelling our plan and them acknowledging this and ceasing to bill us, they started billing us again, then ceased again and refunded when we chased them up, then started again! Very strange and frustrating that we (and they) think it’s finally fixed only to have it start again! Since we have no confidence that they are able to resolve on their end, the best option seems to be to cancel the direct debit, and we are (still) awaiting confirmation of this from our bank…
It isn’t, but it is likely that banks will be sensitive post Royal Commission to any potential negative publicity through actions it takes.
If say the payments were subject of a contract arrangement between the customer and Optus, and the customer was impacted as a direct result of the cancellation of the direct debit, the bank possibly won’t want to find itself in a position of being blamed (whether is founded or not) for this impact.
I fully agree and take the same approach myself…but there are many which have a different view to the more traditional view of the role that banks play.
Unfortunately we seem to live in a world where some individuals believe that decision they make are ultimately someone else’e responsibility.
This is very disappointing behaviour of Optus and may indicate a issue with their billing system. If a bank sees debit debits starting and stopping, they may be suspicious of what is going on…and why it may be worthy to indicate that the payments are not subject of a contract arrangement…but month to month billing cycle…as well as give them a full history of what has recently happened.