Monday, 08 October 2018 11:06

ACMA says Telstra breached priority assistance obligations

ACMA says Telstra breached priority assistance obligations Pixabay

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has ordered Telstra to carry out an independent audit of compliance with its priority assistance obligations for customers who have life-threatening medical conditions.

In a statement, the ACMA said its directive followed an investigation in 2017 into the cases of two customers with chronic health conditions who were unable to use their Telstra landline services.

While neither of these customers was registered for priority assistance, both had revealed their condition and the fact that they needed a working telephone service, the ACMA said. Both are now dead.

"Following these events, our initial focus is to address the underlying issue, namely the robustness of the system," said ACMA acting chair Creina Chapman.

"While it is not clear that any action by Telstra would have changed these tragic outcomes, priority assistance is critical to ensure that customers with life-threatening conditions are identified and provided with swift assistance and fault rectification."

The ACMA said that in cases it had investigated Telstra avoided providing information about priority assistance on eight occasions to customers who made inquiries.

The company also did not implement emergency medical request procedures - which are laid down in its priority assistance policy - on nine occasions when inquires were made about the two services.

The telco has now begun an independent audit which will review training and scripts provided to Telstra staff, as well as past customer complaints about priority assistance.

"We’ll be taking a very close look at the results of the independent audit. If we still have concerns with Telstra’s priority assistance services we’ll step in and ensure they’re addressed,’ Chapman said.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.



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