Thursday, 15 March 2018 12:06

Ombudsman welcomes new ACMA consumer protection rules Featured

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Ombudsman welcomes new ACMA consumer protection rules Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ahead of the imposition of new telecommunications consumer protection rules for NBN migration, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has revealed that residential consumers and small businesses made 27,195 complaints about telecoms services over the 12 months of the last financial year.

Welcoming the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s intention to impose new rules to better protect consumers migrating to the national broadband network, the TIO says most complaints in the FY 2017 were about connection and fault issues relating to services delivered over the NBN.

“Everyone wants residential consumers and small businesses to have the best possible experience when migrating to the NBN. If a complaint does occur, the complaint process should support a productive outcome,” says ombudsman Judi Jones.

"The proposed rules changes are a positive step towards aligning the consumer experience with their expectations.”

The changes will require telecommunications providers to adhere to a number of new rules drafted by the ACMA to improve the experience of consumers who move to the national broadband network.

The ACMA was directed by the government last year to develop new rules for retail carriage service providers aimed at improving the experience of residential and small-business consumers moving to the NBN. 

The review by the ACMA has looked at areas including:

  • Handling complaints consumers make to retail CSPs;
  • Providing information to consumers about migrating to the new network; and
  • Promoting the continuity of voice and broadband services.

And as part of the review the ACMA is charged with creating new rules using existing statutory powers to improve the consumer experience, including:

  • Record-keeping rules to be made for complaints made to CSP, and
  • A new service provider determination requiring CSPs to undertake post-connection line-testing to proactively identify faults and ensure services are working after installation made.

The ACMA is now seeking public submissions and comments on the draft Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints Handling) Industry Standard 2018 (the Standard) and Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints) Record-Keeping Rules 2018 and says it will consult separately on other rules in early April.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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