Telstra has announced it will start reimbursing customers after failing to deliver on promised NBN speeds. The telco has blamed the different technologies behind the NBN for the inconsistent speeds. Here's how to get your refund.
In a recent Telstra blog post, retail group executive Kevin Russell admitted that some customers have been paying for NBN speeds that they never received.
"We recently reviewed the speeds our customers are receiving on the NBN. While the vast majority are receiving the speeds they signed up for, we believe a small number of our nbn customers (approximately 1 per cent) are not," Russell explained in a statement.
Based on the above percentage, approximately 8000 Telstra customers are acknowledged to be affected. As per Australian consumer protection laws, these customers are now eligible for a refund.
How to get your refund
The good news is that Telstra is actively contacting customers who aren't getting the advertised speeds:
We’re in the process of proactively contacting those customers to move them to a speed tier their nbn service supports. In any cases where we believe that customers may have paid for a speed boost they haven’t benefited from, we’ll be reimbursing the charges.
If you believe you are affected and do not hear from the telco, you should definitely contact Telstra directly.
We recommend running multiple speed tests at different times of the day and presenting Telstra with your evidence. The telco has already committed to reimbursing customers so hopefully there won't be much pushback against your claim.
Unfortunately, getting out of your contract is likely to be trickier: Telstra has only committed to downgrading customers to the available speed tier and adjusting their bill accordingly. We've contacted Telstra about this and will update the story when we hear back.
Update: Telstra provided Lifehacker with the following statement (emphasis ours):
For customers on a speed boost whose lines cannot support the download and upload speeds of the product, Telstra will transfer these customers to an appropriate speed boost product and the customers will receive a full or partial credit of speed boost charges. Customers looking to cancel their contract will go through the standard complaints process.
Telstra's decision to reimburse its customers comes after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced it would be investigating speed claims made by NBN providers to its customers.
"The ACCC is concerned that the use of vague speed claims is not providing consumers accurate, comparable, or useful information ... causing a high level of complaints, confusion, and dissatisfaction," the ACCC said at the time.
The ACCC is also in the process of setting up an NBN speed monitoring program which aims to show consumers what speeds telcos are providing during peak and off-peak hours. You can read up on how the monitoring program will work here.
Here's the full statement as it appears on the Telstra blog:
Earlier this year we announced we would be providing our customers more information on the data speeds they could expect to experience after moving to the nbn.
We made this commitment because in talking to our customers, it became clear that the different technologies behind the nbn and what determined the speeds they could get was all a bit of a mystery. Many expected the speed experience would be the same for everyone no matter which service provider they chose, where they lived or what underlying technology nbn was using to connect their neighbourhood.
The fact is, like any network, speeds on the nbn vary due to quite a large number of factors.
Some of these factors are managed by retail service providers like Telstra. Others are designed and controlled by nbn co. Where customers place their Wi-Fi modem and how they use the internet also play a significant part.
Today we’ve introduced a guide that we hope will help customers understand the factors that influence their internet speeds on the nbn. It can be accessed here. It includes some tips when planning the setup of nbn equipment and is part of our pledge to provide our customers with better information about nbn speeds and to help them get the best out of their nbn service.
For our part, we are working to provide the best possible speed performance on the nbn. To do this we actively monitor and manage our capacity on the nbn network to ensure we have the right level of bandwidth to support customer speeds.
Taking an industry approach to nbn speed information
It is clear that helping Australian consumers and businesses understand nbn speed performance requires a co-ordinated industry response. We need to work together to agree a consistent way to present information so Australians can make informed choices.
Earlier this year, we proposed publishing a snapshot of the speed performance of Telstra’s nbn services at a national level. We are committed to providing more information and transparency on nbn speeds and our guide is the first step in this process. And, to ensure industry wide consistency, we are now actively participating in a conversation on nbn speed guidance and measurement that’s being coordinated by the ACCC.
Helping customers select the right speed tier
Providing our customers with a high-quality experience on the nbn is an on-going endeavour. While it is important that our customers are aware of the factors that contribute to the speed they are able to get on the nbn, it is also critical that they are getting the speeds they signed up for. We recently reviewed the speeds our customers are receiving on the nbn. While the vast majority are receiving the speeds they signed up for, we believe a small number of our nbn customers (approximately once per cent) are not and we’re in the process of proactively contacting those customers to move them to a speed tier their nbn service supports. In any cases where we believe that customers may have paid for a speed boost they haven’t benefited from, we’ll be reimbursing the charges.
Speeds into homes can vary due to the underlying nbn network technology, however, the precise impact cannot be determined until after connection. Therefore, in the first month after a customer takes up a speed boost we will also review their speeds and proactively contact them if we believe that they are not receiving the speeds they signed up for. Consistent with our commitment to our customers’ experience, we will then move them to the speed tier their nbn service supports and reimburse any speed boost charges they have incurred. This will help ensure that our customers get the best value from their package and the right speed tier at their address.
With these steps, Telstra is taking an industry lead to ensure our customers receive the service and experience they expect on the nbn armed with all the information they need to make an informed choice.