The protections are embodied in a revised version of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code that has taken over two years to develop and that has now been registered by the ACMA, making compliance mandatory.
ACCAN says the improved Code aims to address current deficiencies in customer service, complaint handling and spend management, including:
- The majority of telco advertisements will now have to include the cost of a two minute national call, the cost of a standard SMS and the cost for 1MB of data;
- Telcos will be required to offer a 'Critical Information Summary' that includes all pricing information, inclusions and minimum spend information for each product in a standard form;
- Customers will receive warnings when they have used 50%, 85% and 100% of their monthly allowance for phone and data.
However while the ACMA can direct telecommunications services providers to comply, its only avenue of enforcement is through the courts. The leading telecommunications representative body, ACCAN, says this is not adequate and it has called on communications minister Stephen Conroy to give the ACMA greater powers of enforcement.
Separate from the ACMA, the industry is taking its own steps to try and ensure that industry players comply with the code. Industry body Communications Alliance - which developed the code - has set up a new body, Communications Compliance, to create a national compliance monitoring regime.
ACMA chairman Chris Chapman, said the code would deliver "world's best protections for Australian consumers which should give rise to a much needed, much improved, customer experience."
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