StarHub Customer Charged S$1.5K For Unauthorised Google Play Transactions, Telco Offers Barring Service

StarHub Customer Charged S$1.5K For Unauthorised Google Play Transactions, Telco Offers Barring Service
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StarHub Customer Allegedly Made To Pay For Google Play Transactions She Didn’t Make

Depending on your mobile plan, a monthly phone bill typically doesn’t exceed three-digit figures. One can thus imagine the shock a StarHub customer felt when she saw her bill surpassing S$1,500, for Google Play transactions she allegedly didn’t make.

What followed were many rounds of communication with multiple parties when she sought help to rectify the matter.

The customer even received a lawyer’s letter from StarHub demanding that she make the payment.

At her wit’s end, she took to Facebook to recount her experience and air her grievances.

StarHub bill included 11 Google Play transactions she didn’t make

In a post in the Complaint Singapore Facebook group on 12 Mar, the customer gave a chronological breakdown of what happened.

Source: Facebook

Between September and October 2021, she claimed that 11 unauthorised Google Play transactions were made on her account. She only found out about them after she received a StarHub bill for S$1,343.90 in late October.

Source: Facebook

When she called StarHub to notify them about the issue, she was allegedly told to contact Google instead.

The OP did so and filed claims disputes against the purchases.

Source: Facebook

She also filed a police report on 24 Oct 2021 informing them of the unauthorised transactions, though she didn’t mention whether they responded.

A few days later, the OP allegedly received a reply from Google saying that they were unable to help. She claimed that they told her to approach her financial institution instead.

But since the charges went to her phone bill, the customer noted that no financial institutions were involved. Therefore, she contacted StarHub again, who purportedly referred her back to Google.

She reached out to Google for a second time and received no response.

Customer gets lawyer’s letter demanding payment

In November 2021, the customer allegedly received yet another bill from StarHub amounting to S$1,504.09.

“At this point I was very confused, because I had already flagged that this is a scam and that it should be cut off,” she wrote.

She then raised the issue to the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE). For roughly a year from December 2021 to December 2022, she engaged in “back and forth communications” between CASE, StarHub and Google.

The efforts were seemingly in vain when she received a lawyer’s letter from StarHub on 14 Nov 2022, insisting that she pay the amount she incurred the year before. On top of that, she owed an additional recovery administrative cost of S$32.10.

Source: Facebook

Having gone through countless rounds of communication at this point, the customer expressed her frustration and displeasure towards the situation.

“Naive as I was, I thought I could trust big organisations like StarHub, Google and CASE to help make this right for their loyal customers but instead got thrown in the face with a lawyer’s letter. ”

Accusing the companies of lacking transparency, she conveyed her refusal to pay for charges she did not incur.

The OP ended the lengthy post by saying that she hopes it reaches StarHub. She wishes for them to assist her in this matter, and put in more resources to ensure similar incidents do not happen to anyone else.

StarHub investigated the issue & assisted the customer

Responding to queries from MS News, StarHub said that they had investigated the matter when the customer first reached out to them.

They apparently found that she had the Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) service enabled on her mobile line. This service allows users to purchase third-party mobile content by charging the payments directly to their mobile bill.

StarHub explained that they had assisted the customer by activating the Premium Rate Services (PRS) barring service. This function in turn blocked any further DCB charges to her bills.

Since the telco only billed her on Google’s behalf, they had no visibility of her transactions with Google. StarHub thus advised her to seek clarification with Google directly on the Google Play charges, and whether they can reverse them.

In light of this incident, StarHub also provided advice to mobile customers using the DCB service:

To safeguard our mobile customers from making unintended purchases of mobile content through DCB, we offer PRS barring services which customers can easily activate via SMS. We encourage customers to only enable DCB with third-party content providers if they want to charge their content purchases to their mobile bills.

It’s unclear if the telco will take any follow-up actions but we hope that the customer will be able to resolve the matter and get closure soon.

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Featured image adapted from Facebook and courtesy of StarHub.

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