And the hammer drops on the Optus Premium SMS Scam

[ Edited ]

After Telstra, it was only a matter of time before Optus got shamed and named (and fined)


Like the banks, what's most egregious about this scam is that it has taken the authorities to step in an inform Optus (and Telstra) how completely unacceptable this behavior has been. That the two of the biggest companies in the nation (and the two biggest Telcos) had to be told that wilfully facilitating, participating and profiteering in this long running shake down is not acceptable. 


This hasn't been a few bad apples, or an administrative oversite, or something Optus just didn't notice. Its been complained about for years (600,000 complaints to Optus alone on this subject and yet absolutely nothing down to protect their own customers. There are other areas that Optus continue to act just as shamefully (a $1200 usage fine for downloading 1Gb of data just the other day for one hapless customer) and yet Optus are almost certainly not going to proactively try to address these well documented concerns. 


Indeed even now it seems unlikely Optus would have ever stopped this behavior had it not become unprofitable to continue the shake down. Until now the "cost of doing business" for Premium SMS was a potential $10 million fine, which the bean counters no doubt had no problem subtracting from the $66 million profit Optus has personally pocketed so far. Its taken for the law to raise the fine to potentially $100 million before someone in accounts has finally suggested they take their winnings and go.


With $56 million in the bank I doubt anyone in Optus upper management is feeling the least bit chagrined and ashamed, but they should be.


Peter Gillespie

Re: And the hammer drops on the Optus Premium SMS Scam


Hmm and to think I was ridiculed years ago on the Telstra forum by staff and fan boys and girls when I suggested this day may come. I think I have probably made a hundred posts or more on the Optus forum expressing my dismay at premium sms charges so I have no sympathy for Optus or Telstra on this matter. I just hope the fines don’t get passed down to their customers.

Re: And the hammer drops on the Optus Premium SMS Scam

[ Edited ]

Hi guys, 


We acknowledge that some customers may have inadvertently subscribed to content they did not want or could not easily unsubscribe from.


We’re undertaking a comprehensive review of customers affected by this activity and will be providing refunds to those customers affected, taking into consideration the fact that some customers may already have been refunded.


Customers that want to raise a complaint regarding a premium SMS/direct carrier billing service, please use our online complaints form →


  1. Enter your name and preferred contact method
  2. Tell us when you’d like to be contacted
  3. Please make sure you answer, “direct carrier billing,” under the question “which account are you experiencing issues with.”
  4. Leave us with a description of your issue
  5. Submit your complaint 


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Re: And the hammer drops on the Optus Premium SMS Scam

[ Edited ]

Hi @Dan_C,


I realise that is the official Optus position. IMO you and the other mods have been great in trying to help out more recently impacted customers. I would think frontline customer service operators throughout Optus would be well and truly over being yelled at by (justifiably) irate customers wondering why optus were unilaterally charging them and whay on complaint they were not immediately refunded on dispute.


IMO a "comprehensive review of affected customers" is almost certainly not happening. Taking from Telstra's lead, only those that spotted the scam and raised an official complaint (not a casual complaint) and were in turn still told no, will be getting an offer of compensation. That is still a staggeringly high number but its only a fraction of the total number of people that either missed the small monthly addition or found it too hard to try bother or gave up mid process. 


Optus should have an exact record of every premium SMS charge they ever levied on every Optus customer. A letter should be sent out to every such billing address stating the charges applied and the services rendered. All customers should then be free to decide for themselves if they were "inadvertantly affected" and be told to contact Optus to lodge a case for compensation. But that's not going to happen is it?


Its was a shameful money grabbing exercise and to even now be trying to suggest it was an "inadvertant act" (offical response)  and not a deeply cynical and deliberate exploitation of those that put not only their trust in to Optus but also their money, just shows how dismissive they are of any sense of wrong doing. The simplest and cheapest of changes to the Optus procedures (Opt In Required) would have made the entire process completely legitimate - inadvertant it was not.


Again though, I'm not disappointed in @Dan_C or any of the staff  at Optus, just the managerial "oversight" that has culminated with no real satisfactory outcome - this time the bad guys got away with the loot.


Peter Gillespie

Re: And the hammer drops on the Optus Premium SMS Scam

[ Edited ]

I was actually curious if Optus had any holdings in these companies as it didn't make any sense to me why Optus wouldn't turn this premium service billing feature off by default. I guess we now know they had 66 million reasons for it.

Re: And the hammer drops on the Optus Premium SMS Scam

[ Edited ]

I read somewhere that Optus apparently directly owned/supplied around 50% of the Premium SMS services about 10 years ago. Not sure what the figure is these days. 


So I've had my Pyrrhic victory. Be a bit sad not to be able to drum on about Premium SMS any more. Smiley Sad


Peter Gillespie 



Re: And the hammer drops on the Optus Premium SMS Scam


According to Whirlpool forum every telco has been scamming for ten years. I will contact Slater&Gordon to roll up the compensations for everyone who has been scammed via a class action. Those who contacted the TIO got money back, all others got ignored. 

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