Telstra was fined AUD3 million ($2 million) by Australia’s communications watchdog after an investigation found the operator charged customers for inactive internet services over an 11-year period.

In a statement, the Australian Communications and Media Authority noted Telstra also refunded AUD17.7 million to subscribers, with an additional AUD3.4 million to be credited to customers by the year-end.

ACMA found 6,532 customers, mostly small businesses, were overcharged by an average of AUD2,600 between April 2012 and August 2023.

The regulator’s chair Nerida O’Loughlin noted ACMA lost patience with Telstra after a series of significant billing errors.

“Telstra has a history of incorrectly billing customers and it’s just not good enough.”

ACMA stated Telstra attributed the billing issues to not following the required steps to deactivate its ADSL internet service and had implemented measures in its systems to address the issue, including monthly monitoring and confirmation a service is being used before billing.

It has also agreed to report to ACMA about the effectiveness of the controls in six months.

“Telstra is a major player in the Australian telco sector, and it needs to continue to prioritise its billing compliance and get its systems in order,” O’Loughlin added.

ACMA fined Telstra more than AUD500,000 in April 2022 over a failure to comply with billing accuracy obligations.