TELSTRA customers are being forced into paying a 92 per cent premium to access its failing network despite seven major outages this year.
Consumer advocacy group Choice said consumers shouldn’t be forced into paying what it called the “Telstra tax” when it was clear the network was failing on a regular basis.
Choice, which looked at 53 Telstra contracts, found consumers were paying the hefty premium for no good reason and urged unhappy customers to opt out fast.
Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said it was unfair for Telstra to charge a premium when it was clear customers were not getting the service they deserved.
“There’s only so much free data Telstra can offer before they have to admit their network is failing on a fairly regular basis and its promised premium network is a thing of the past,” Mr Godfrey said.
“With outages affecting pre-and postpaid mobile voice and data services, as well as broadband internet connections, it has become clear the ‘Telstra tax’ being charged to access its network is not deserved.”
He added Telstra claims its point of difference was network quality but that “six months of network outages would suggest Telstra is a long way from offering a quality network.”
Choice said it analysed 280 telco products to determine how much more Telstra customers were being charged compared to equivalent products by other companies.
It found of these 53 comparisons could be made with Telstra products with premiums ranging from six per cent to 92 per cent.
Choice found home internet users were being hit with the highest premium of 92 per cent to access the ADSL “Large Broadband” plan with customers paying $2963 over 24 months including upfront costs compared to TPG which paid $1539.71.
It also found those on fixed-term mobile contracts were hit hard paying up to 35 per cent more.
“Consumers pay a 35 per cent premium for Telstra’s X-Large Go Mobile ($135/month) compared to Optus My Plan Plus $100/month,” Choice found.
However a spokesman for the telco slammed the findings and said the results were “deeply flawed”.
A spokesman told news.com.au the analysis only took into consideration a small handful of plans it provided while ignoring the rest.
“In its analysis Choice misses many of our most comparable plans and fails to consider things customers tell us are most important, such as the breadth, speeds and availability of our network and the extras we include like free and unlimited access to Australia’s largest Wi-Fi network, free AFL and NRL season passes, free home broadband and mobile security, Telstra TV and free Apple Music on many plans,” he said.
He maintained its customers recognised the value of its plans which was reflected by the fact that it remained the most popular provider for mobile and fixed services.
The spokesman said he acknowledged while pricing and allowances were a logical way to compare providers they didn’t tell the entire story.
He said Choice used only a small number of highly selected examples and wrongly suggested this reflected Telstra’s overall pricing.
The spokesman also said Choice didn’t compare like-for-like plans, ignoring cheaper comparisons and products and that it also failed to report the value of additional services included in plans.
Telstra has suffered a series of outages this year, prompting boss Andy Penn to issue a grovelling apology.
More than 375,000 phone and internet customers were locked out in May, followed by two outages in March and one in February.
The Telstra chief executive announced $250 million in network upgrades which were designed to improve its networks’ resilience but denied there was an increase in problems with the network.
Last month another Telstra outage hit customers in Victoria, leaving customers fuming.