Australia’s telecommunications consumers will benefit from improved customer service, better information about the products they use, more responsive complaint handling and a host of stronger consumer protections under a new industry Code released for public comment today by Communications Alliance.
The draft of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code has been revised and improved by industry players, consumer representatives and industry regulators during recent months and will apply to all service providers supplying telecommunications services to consumers and small businesses in Australia.
The revised draft Code will be open for public comment for the next month and can be downloaded from the Communications Alliance web-site: www.commsalliance.com.au.
Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton urged members of the public to contribute their personal input to the review process and help industry further improve the Code.
The major improvements in the new Code include:
- Unit Pricing – three unit prices (for calls, text message and data use) to be included in all large print advertisements for post-paid, included value mobile plans, to help consumers compare different plans before they buy
- Tighter deadlines for phone companies to acknowledge and resolve customer complaints, with every customer receiving a unique reference number to help track the progress of their complaint
- Stronger restrictions on advertising content to ensure ads are clear and do not mislead customers
- Better pre-sales information – a clear and concise Summary of Offer provided to consumers before they purchase post-paid products, to ensure they have all the necessary information about the products and can easily compare offers from different providers
- Spend management tools – to help customers manage their monthly spend and to prevent “bill-shock”. This includes notifications to tell customers where they stand in comparison to any data usage limits each month and help them avoid any excess charges
- A new independent body – Communications Compliance - to monitor the performance of service providers in complying with the Code rules
- Stronger protection for customers concerning credit and debt management
- New obligations on suppliers in relation to vulnerable customers and meeting customers’ needs
Mr Stanton said the revised draft Code reflected the genuine desire of Australia’s telecommunications companies to provide an improved consumer environment, with greater certainty, higher customer satisfaction and fewer customer complaints.
He said the draft Code had already benefited greatly from direct recommendations from consumer representatives and industry regulators including the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
“We are in continuing and constructive dialogue with the ACMA and other players, including the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) on a range of Code issues, and will further refine the Code in the light of inputs received during the public comment period,” Mr Stanton said.
Once the draft Code is finalised and approved by the Communications Alliance Board, it will be submitted to the ACMA for formal registration before coming into force.
ABOUT COMMUNICATIONS ALLIANCE
Communications Alliance is the primary telecommunications industry body in Australia. Its membership is drawn from a wide cross-section of the communications industry, including carriers, carriage and internet service providers, content providers, search engines, equipment vendors, IT companies, consultants and business groups.
Its vision is to provide a unified voice for the telecommunications industry and to lead it into the next generation of converging networks, technologies and services. The prime mission of Communications Alliance is to promote the growth of the Australian communications industry and the protection of consumer interests by fostering the highest standards of business ethics and behaviour through industry self-governance. For more details about Communications Alliance, see www.commsalliance.com.au.