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Telstra customer's fury over $2.50 fee for paying with cash

Fees for those not paying bills by direct debit are continuing to rise, but there are exemptions for some.

A woman is furious at Telstra for the company's $2.50 fee when paying her bill in cash at the post office.

The Melbourne customer shared her fury with the Call Out Cashless Businesses Facebook group last week, saying she refuses to pay her bills by direct debit.

"Have to pay $2.50 extra with Telstra because I pay cash at the post office," she said. "I’ve not been charged this fee before."

A photo of a Melbourne woman's email about her non-electronic payment to Telstra, showing a $2.50 fee.
A Melbourne woman has criticised a $2.50 fee she received when paying her Telstra bill at an Australian post store. Source: Facebook

Fee not just for those who pay cash

Like many other companies, Telstra has for many years charged fees for those who pay their bills in person at post offices or Telstra stores, whether its through cash or card, or with a cheque through postal mail.

As of May 20, Telstra's $1 fee for paying bills in physical stores jumped to $2.50, on top of an additional $2.20 charge for Telstra issuing the paper bill in the first place.

"We provide a range of options for customers when paying their bills so they can choose what is right for them. Like a lot of utilities one option is over the counter at Australia Post," a Telstra spokeswoman told Yahoo News Australia.

"When this occurs, Australia Post charges the utility for processing the payment and it is common for companies to pass this onto the customer. The rate we charge our customers is still lower than what we get charged to accept these payments."

Several groups exempt from paying fee

There are however several groups of people — that make up around 65 per cent of customers — who won't be charged the fee for paper bills and non-electronic payments.

The front of a Telstra store.
Telstra are one of many businesses asking people to pay their bills electronically. Source: Facebook

"You can apply for an exemption if you have a valid Health Care, Pension Concession or Department of Veteran’s Affairs Card, if you don’t have an email address, access to an active internet service or customers living in remote communities including those that are First Nations communities," the spokeswoman said.

"Exemptions also apply for customers who need special bill formats, such as braille or large A3 bills."

Cash use shrinking, but still important to some

While most people choose to pay their bills online, there remains a portion of the population who need or prefer to pay their bills in brick and mortar stores.

According to a 2022 survey by the Reserve Bank Of Australia, 4.5 per cent of Aussies still pay cash for transactions — which has halved since 2019. And around 60 per cent of those high cash users said they'd be majorly inconvenienced or experience genuine hardship if cash was no longer available or usable.

The main reason for wanting to use cash remains to be privacy and security concerns — a sentiment echoed in the Facebook group — possibly due to the cyber attacks in recent years.

However if customers do want to avoid processing fees, they have the option to switch to electronic bill payments.

"Electronic options are our preferred billing and payment methods which is in step with global and local trends in billings and payments across a range of utilities, telcos and service providers," the Telstra spokeswoman said.

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