An Aussie mum received the shock of her life earlier this year when she opened her mail to find an enormous Telstra internet and phone bill totalling almost half a million dollars.
Mum-of-three Karen is usually charged around $400 a month for the family’s plan but back in April her home modem went into “meltdown”, with the provider then slapping her with an outstanding bill of $465,595.23, which she has been battling with Telstra to clear for the past month.
Speaking about the stressful situation on Channel Nine’s A Current Affair on Tuesday, Karen said she has been filled with anxiety for weeks as she tried to understand how her family could have used that much data in a short space of time.
“They’ve taken it as it’s still my bill and I’m guilty of that bill until they prove otherwise,” she explained. “You can’t move past the call centre, there’s no-one past that, so that’s when the stress and anxiety builds up – what am I going to do?”
While Karen admitted her two daughters do like using technology, she said a bill that large still seemed unbelievable. It was for this reason the mother said she thought she must have been hacked.
“Has it [the modem] been hacked?” she queried. “How has it actually managed to do that much data download without bursting into flames?”
The shocking bill also stumped technology expert Trevor Long who explained to A Current Affair how difficult it would be for a modem to process that much data in just a month. He said the family would have had to spend 4.5 million hours on Facebook or watch 30,000 movies in a month to lead to the whopping amount – something which he claimed is almost impossible.
“I think if their was actually that much traffic going in through your home network, we’re talking hundreds of millions of megabytes, I don’t think the average home router or home network could cope with it.”
After speaking to her local Telstra store in Bunbury, Western Australia, Karen thought the problem had been solved with the sales representative claiming it was “absolutely a mistake”.
But the issue only continued with the mum receiving a second bill the following month for an increased amount of $466,000.
“Their billing process failed, their technology failed, their customer service definitely failed and their management have failed,” a disgruntled Karen told A Current Affair.
Thankfully, Telstra official Michael Ackland has since apologised for the mishap and told A Current Affair that it was caused by a “system glitch”. He advised Karen to ignore the bill and explained the charges have been removed.
“There were two issues – there was a system glitch error that created the original problem, and then human error to not pick it up as quick as we possibly could,” he told the news program.