Telecommunications giant Telstra harassed a widow for nearly a decade over her husband’s account after he died of cancer – the company finally admitting its mistakes in its handling of the case.
Jenny Moncur contacted Telstra 40 times between 2014 and 2023 as they continually contacted her about her 37-year-old husband Royce’s now closed account.
He died in 2014 in a small Gippsland town in regional Victoria after being diagnosed with advanced late-stage kidney cancer.
As Telstra restored Royce’s credit, Ms Moncur repeatedly asked to cancel their account, but the service provider said it needed to speak to the account holder.
After providing them with a death certificate, complaining to head office and contacting the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, the company continued to email him about Royce.
Jenny Moncur contacted Telstra 40 times between 2014 and 2023 as they continually inquired about her 37-year-old husband’s now closed account.
As Telstra restored her husband Royce’s credit, Mrs Moncur repeatedly asked to cancel their account, but the service provider said it needed to speak to the account holder.
Ms Moncur said the agony of opening repeated emails about her late husband to offer a few congratulations eventually became too much.
‘It was very painful. Every time I spoke to someone I had to keep repeating, “My husband is dead, he’s dead,” she told ABC.
After opening an email titled ‘Good News’ which informed her that Royce’s account had been credited, the sadness she felt was ‘terrible’.
‘It was terrifying, because it wasn’t good news,’ said Ms Moncur.
‘It was a reminder that he would never use that credit.’
When Telstra emailed Ms Moncur in January asking her to confirm her late husband as the authority on an account, she said it felt like a dark comedy skit.
In particular it reminds him of the Monty Python skit, Dead Parrot, in which John Cleese’s character repeatedly tries to convince a stubborn pet shop clerk that his parrot is dead.
This latest email prompted Ms Moncur to complain directly to Telstra CEO Vicky Brady, whose office replied to her personally.
Telstra apologized for the ‘distress and worry’ it caused the widow and blamed a breach of process for the disturbing email.
An internal review of Telstra’s handling of the situation found that Ms Royce should have been immediately transferred to the company’s compassionate care team.
The original move was skipped and never corrected, Telstra wrote in a letter seen by the ABC.
The company said it was investigating procedures around the bereavement, which was corrected in 2022 after realizing its mistake with Ms Moncur.
Ms Moncur complained directly to Telstra’s CEO, Vicky Brady, whose office replied to her personally, apologizing for the ‘distress and worry’ it had caused.
According to telecommunications industry ombudsman Cynthia Gebert, Telstra’s treatment of Ms Moncur was ‘not the standard to which the industry should hold itself’.
About 100 complaints about spam from service providers were reported to Ms Gebert’s office in the last financial year, she told the ABC.
Four of these complaints directly involved families being contacted about deceased relatives.
Most were from former customers who had left their providers but received marketing information after attempting to opt out and receiving false notifications.
Telstra assured Ms Moncur, who found the situation a disgrace, that the company would move on ‘and do better’.
An ombudsman report in June this year revealed that there were inadequate consumer protections in the telecommunications industry.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority said in a statement that these companies must establish pre-determined deadlines for resolving complaints.
Failure to meet this deadline can result in fines of up to $250,000 by the regulator if it takes a company to court.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Telstra for comment.
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