CHOICE membership

OPTUS - non direct-debit penalty

I’m not a ‘fan’ of Direct Debit, even though, I do use it, and it can be convenient. To me, there’s always a risk, I’m writing an ‘open cheque’ to the company to take what THEY think is the right amount.

Plus, I’ve also been ‘caught’ when there’s been a problem with the debit, and then been charged a $35 dollar bank ‘dishonour’ fee… such a scam.

So, when I signed up for my Optus 5G internet service, my understanding, was that it was a flat $70 per month.

But when my first bills started coming in, I started noticing they were for $72.20 … which I thought was odd.

Upon investigating, I found out, ‘unless’ you sign-up for Direct Debit, you must pay a $2.20 processing fee.

How can this be? I have an ‘auto-payment’ set up on my Bpay to pay the bill ‘early’ every month.

After a long series of emails and chat portals to customer service based in the Philippines… I haggled them around to avoiding the toll… but, since bills are ‘automated’, I still get a bill for $72.20… and started getting OVERDUE - PAY NOW notices for the $2.20, then $4.40…

It’s been a right old pain in the butt… and it’s still not over.

On principle, I feel the ‘Direct Debit’ demand, is unreasonable. I didn’t know it was a condition of the deal, and I didn’t expect to pay it.

Sign up for Direct Debit or be ‘fined’ for not doing it.

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Welcome to the community @MickeyT9. No one likes payment fees if they have to pay them.

It possibly is the case for the provision of the 5G service. The $2.20 per month as you have provided is outlined in the Optus terms and conditions/terms of service and would have been available to you when you signed up for the service. This is a payment processing fee which is different to the 5G service fee.

BPay isn’t direct debit and under the T&Cs, would incur a $2.20 payment fee.

Surcharges for an payment option is legal and is covered by the ACCC:

It is worth noting that BPay is excluded from the Ban against excessive surcharges, however, one would expect that it would be a reasonable cost associated with and passed onto the customer for use of this payment method.

The question is is the $2.20 reasonable. In relation to BPay merchant fees, the NAB website gives an indication of the fees that Optus would be paying for you to use the Bpay payment method:

This indicates that the transaction fee is $0.88 plus a fraction of the $99 biller establishment fee (which for Optus would be next to zero).

This means for Optus to process the Bpay at their end the cost will be around $1.30. This $1.30 would be for infrastructure and running payment reconciliation reports. While the report running may have no real cost, the labour required to monitor as well as the hardware used to run it would have some cost…possibly justifying the $1.30 Optus adds to the standard BPay $0.88 transaction fee.

Is the $1.30 reasonable, don’t know but as you have effectively agreed to this fee when signing up for Optus 5G, one could argue that you are happy to pay this fee. If you weren’t happy, then Optus does provide options so such a fee is not paid.

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I too refuse to accept being forced into direct debit arrangements. - No one controls my bank account except me!

I had this same argument with Optus several years ago when in their wisdom they decided I was no longer trustworthy and they demanded payment via direct debit which I refused to accept.

As a long-standing customer who had never missed a payment in over 30 years, I objected to being charged a fee to pay my phone bill. I ‘won’ at that time and they placed an amount of ‘credit’ on my account to take care of this DD charge. However, once that ran out they reverted to charging me once again. They seemingly were incapable of simply removing the charge (Telstra has a similar ridiculously complicated accounting system!).

Sadly, Optus is not the only organisation doing this. It is all about convenience for them and nothing to do with ‘processing fees’. They process nothing. If you are paying with Bpay or even direct transfer they are not handling anything more than they would using DD. This insidious move to forcing everyone into unwanted direct debit arrangements is more about the organisation ensuring they have control over YOUR money and their bill gets paid regardless. It also then allows them to claim that customers have ‘embraced’ electronic banking thus allowing them to close even more shopfronts.

I can offer one solution for you which I have been implementing with Aussie Broadband. Yes, I eventually ditched Optus and moved to AB. They too insist on direct debit, BUT I discovered that when you get the first bill, call AB and ask for the Bpay codes. Then pay the bill before the DD is due each month and you will never be charged that way! This has worked for me since the first bill 6 months ago. But it would only work if you have a known charge, although you could do the same with variable bills by overestimating the charge.

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