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Customer service quiets outrage over Telstra’s 117 MB mystery

Peter Moon (via AFR) | July 23, 2013
Thanks to a glitch in Telstra's mobile data usage recording system, our iPhone usage suddenly appeared to skyrocket, exposing us to a world of pain.

It was a good week that could have been a bad one. Thanks to a glitch in Telstra's mobile data usage recording system, our iPhone usage suddenly appeared to skyrocket, exposing us to a world of pain.Think of those massive excess usage bills that regularly feature in the pop media.

How our Protestant friends don't believe in purgatory is beyond us. Forty-five minutes on the line to a telco billing department is compelling proof of the concept. Imagine trying desperately to work out how you chewed through $2000 of extra data, and pleading with a heartless customer service agent to believe you are innocent.

But what could have gone horribly wrong was in fact pretty painless, and underscored the importance of mandatory mobile data usage notification alerts all telcos will have to send users from September 1.

The first we knew that something was awry was on receiving a Telstra notification that we'd hit 50 per cent of our 2-gigabyte monthly allowance, barely 10 days into the billing cycle. This, you must believe us, just couldn't have been right. We rarely use a third of our allowance in months when we gorge on streaming radio.

(As regular readers will know, we've been on a weight loss program recently, and many of those long, calorie-burning walks have been accompanied by internet radio courtesy of the peerless TuneIn Radio app.)

A number of service providers, including Telstra, are ahead of the game in complying with the coming requirement to notify some customers that their data allowance has been 50 per cent, then 85 per cent, then 100 per cent consumed. That's why we were tipped off to a problem.

Hitting 50 per cent of our data in a few days rang loud alarm bells. At least we knew something was up before Telstra's billing system believed we owed it a small fortune. That was our first happy break.

We checked our data usage using Telstra's mobile usage web page and discovered that we'd been docked nearly a gigabyte the previous Saturday, which we had spent socialising with family and friends.

Stranger still, the extreme usage consisted of eight blocks of data each of exactly 117 megabytes. At that rate, paying our bill for the month was going to involve a second mortgage.

We resolved to front up at the nearest Telstra business centre to head off disaster.

The second slice of joy was the reception we received at the business centre. We may be dreaming but it seemed like the staff really cared about our issue. They recognised that a sudden series of 117MB data chunks was odd and got on the line to techies to investigate the mystery.


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