Exetel to take Telstra back to court, one dispute at a time

Telstra issues national apology but bungles billing and will be taken back to court, Exetel boss says

Some 24 hours after obtaining a printed public apology, Exetel will again take Telstra (ASX:TLS) to court, this time over billing disputes.

Telstra yesterday apologised to Exetel through a printed advertisement in The Australian after it was taken to the Federal Court of Australia for lodging false financial defaults with credit bureau Verda Advantage.

The apology was issued after Telstra's retail arm had told Verda Advantage that Exetel missed three payments, a bungle only noticed by Exetel “many months” later, when an issuing bank flagged the default during a request for corporate credit cards.

“We were unaware of this until one of our banks advised us of the fact during a routine check they did when we applied for a corporate credit card,” Exetel chief executive officer John Linton said in a blog.

Exetel commenced legal proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against Telstra following several written and verbal exchanges in which requests by Linton for a printed letter of apology were purportedly refused.

The apology was printed yesterday, signalling the finalisation of legal proceedings.

However, Linton said Exetel will now take some 200 individual disputes to different Magistrates Courts “one at a time” that pertain to “incorrect billing”.

Linton also took a swipe at Telstra for using consultation and legal processes to wear out companies that seek to rectify complaints.

“Telstra remain the hardest wholesale company to do business with that Exetel has ever experienced,” Linton told Computerworld.

“Their standard ‘process’ of insisting they are right when it is blatantly obvious that they aren’t, and then using inexplicable internal ‘consultation’ delays before responding to simple points and, when they run out of those, they then use legal processes that they try to keep extending to ‘exhaust’ any company that tries to simply get what is right – is a major blight on the telecommunications industry in this country.”

Telstra was contacted for comment but at time of writing had not provided a response.

Additionally, legal counsel for both parties had not returned calls at time of publication.

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