Telstra is scamming people into taking home accessories they don’t want or need by telling them in-store that it’s all free and part of their new plan; staff even pressure people into taking the accessories after significant protest because, as they stress, it’s all for FREE! But then the bill arrives and there’s an ARO or Accessories Repayment Option of between $10 – $20 per month for these ‘free’ accessories. This is not only deceitful and despicable behaviour, it hurts people financially and massively contributes to a growing ewaste problem! It’s incredibly irresponsible and I’m pissed off.

It happened to me a couple of years ago, even after I spent about 3 hours in the store going over all our details to make sure I understood what we were getting and how much it would cost. I told the Telstra employee that I did not want any of the accessories I was being offered because I had no use for a purse with a built-in charger or most of the other crap that was offered. But the employee continued to pressure me to pick out some accessories because it was FREE.

Eventually, I reluctantly settled on a portable speaker which might be useful for my presentations and a power bank to take hiking. But then the bill arrived… when I realised I was paying for these accessories I was embarrassed and blamed myself for the error – because it can be hard to understand these plans (I know I’m not the only one who feels like this), and I left it at that.

Then last month the same thing happened to my husband when he went to replace his irreparable phone. Despite significant protest, they convinced him that all the items in this photo (there’s an iPad in there too) were for free and that he had to take them. As it turns out, his bill contains not one but FOUR different repayment plans that he didn’t want! We were furious.

A quick bit of Googling revealed that thousands of people are being scammed in this way and they aren’t happy about it. There are even Telstra employees admitting to this practice.

A few people have been successful at having their money returned but have still had to pay cancellation fees. Others give up and hoard the accessories in drawers and cupboards. Some people give their accessories away and don’t even realise they’re paying for them. And some people end up keeping the accessories and devices because they loaded all their ‘stuff’ onto them and now feel they can’t give them back, even though they didn’t want them in the first place. It all contributes to ewaste! And ewaste is a big problem!

My husband has had to waste hours of his time over the past few weeks making phone calls to Telstra to rectify this problem and it still hasn’t been resolved. He got to a point where Telstra was going to send a bag to collect all the items and send a new bill with all the repayment plans removed, but then nothing happened and the next time he called, there was no acknowledgement or record of the situation and his previous calls.

We’re not giving up! I think our next step is Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

I’m also trying to think of a way that I can impact this business practice to help reduce the ewaste problem. Please share your ideas.

Apparently, the ARO accessory repayment option is a misleading add on provided by third party Telstra stores like the Vita Group Limited Telstra Licensed Stores, not all licensees engage in this deceptive behaviour.

Here is another blog post I found about this Telstra scam that I think is worth reading along with the comments.

UPDATE 1st September 2019:

After 3 months pursuing this and four interventions on our behalf by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman we won the fight against Pakenham Telstra store. At first, after some time, they backed down and took back the more valuable items like the iPad, but it shows how worthless the other items actually are, because they didn’t even want them back. However, they sent a bill with hundreds of dollars of cancellation fees. We refused to pay until it was fixed and then they started adding late fees. Every time the TIO got involved they’d say they’d fix it but wouldn’t, until this week we finally got a correct bill and paid it. All over now at last. Don’t give up if you’re fighting this battle too.

13 thoughts

  1. Hello Tammy

    Good on you fur covering the Telstra story. We need more people like you covering these sorts of stories



    😎 Untrashing our planet one pair of sunglasses at a time.

    ✖️Australian (if not world first). ✖️One 600ml plastic bottle = 1 pair, inc hinges. ✖️100% recycled. 100% recyclable. ✖️1 pair sold = 1kg plastic removed from the oceans. ✖️Made in sunny Australia.

    I’m incredibly dyslexic so please excuse any mistakes!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that your should ring up talk back radio, maybe 774. It’s terrible that this is happening. Things seem to move when it becomes public like this. Maybe even get in touch with TV stations about it. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This reminds me, I still have a T-box sitting in my shed in its original box – brand new sealed in plastic unopened, the way it was when it showed up on my doorstep before I realised I was paying for it so I never activated it. If anyone wants it as a doorstop please let me know? I really should throw it away but it seems such a waste.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my goodness! I thought it was something that had just happened to me!

    We spend a lot with Telstra through our business and two years ago I was offered ‘free goddies’ to go with my new mobile plan. I told them thanks but no thanks as i had no need for any of it. I cant believe how hard they pushed and I eventually gave in just to shut them up (I too chose a speaker and a powerbank Tammy! I thought I could give them away as presents at least).

    Two months later my phone broke and I needed to replace it under the type of plan I had. When the next bill came, I saw that I had to fulfil my ‘accessory repayment option’ in one go, and that I’d already paid two months of the accessory repayments. The bill was so messy and confusing, I’d missed it!

    I got on the phone to Telstra and despite being offered a discount on the accessories as a gesture of goodwill, I dug my heels in. I told them the only resolution to this was that I had the ARO taken off my bill and the first two payments reimbursed. Reading your story, I’m now surprised that I did get my money back. Maybe it’s because for the first time in my life I was so incensed by the situation that they could tell I wasn’t going to back down!

    Thanks for your post Tammy. I always enjoy reading them and get a lot of great new ideas to tread more lightly on our precious earth. I think of you every week as I hand over my bread bags at Baker’s Delight. I may get some strange looks from other customers but I say to myself, “If Tammy can do it, so can I”. Have a lovely weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your story Emily, and for the feedback about my blog. There’s definitely a wide range of experiences when it comes to getting an outcome about this. My husband is the one who has been dealing with them this time and he is no push over, but then maybe his hard stance is causing some of the resistance. I really hope we can get a resolution in our favour soon. So much extra stress for no good reason. Hope you have a great weekend too.


  5. Posts like this remind me why I don’t deal with Telstra at all any more – my phone is on a $10 Amaysim plan (on the Telstra network, but Optus was pretty good with the last one too) and our internet has varied over the last few houses but they’ve all been better than Telstra.
    Good luck with it – remember to document names, time and dates and department when you talk to people. potentially ask permission to record the conversation too – they do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, we’ve been in touch with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and they have intervened to get Telstra to fix this problem. The equipment was return a couple of days ago but we’re still waiting for amended bill to come through to check everything is as it should be. 🤞🏼


  6. Hi
    This has also happened to me when setting up a mobile phone plan for my son. This is so wide spread and it appears the telecommunications ombudsmen helps with resolving the individuals problem, and not taking any action to stamp it out.
    Fair trading or the ACCC is my next option as this is misleading and deceptive conduct.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely agree Brian. There seems to be no one willing to stop this!! The telecommunications ombudsman has resolved our individual complaint – almost, we still haven’t received a corrected bill. Please let me know how you go with other avenues. Tammy


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