Tuesday, 10 November 2020 12:51

New rules on telco customer service commitments proposed by ACMA Featured


Telcos offering fixed broadband services will be required to publish their customer service commitments and details of their associated performance under new industry rules being proposed byAustralia’s telecommunications regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The ACMA made its comments in the wake of its recent research which it says showed that while price was important to many consumers, non-price factors such as issues and faults being fixed or good customer service ranked higher overall.

In a statement issued on Monday, as it opened a consultation process on the proposed rules, which are expected to be in place in early 2021, the ACMA notes that there are currently no requirements for telcos to publish their customer service commitments and the remedies they will provide if commitments are not met, such as rebates or backup modems to maintain connectivity.

The period for feedback on the proposed rules closes on 9 December.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the new rules aim to empower consumers to choose a telco based on all factors of the service, not just price, and drive improvements in customer service.

“These new rules will require telcos offering fixed broadband services to be transparent about their service commitments and remedies they are providing their customers, and report on their performance against these,” O’Loughlin said.

“The commitments from telcos will provide useful information for consumers to help them choose their preferred provider and decide whether they want to stay with them over time.”

Under the proposed newrules, telcos will also be required to put in place arrangements so that their customers benefit from the new rebate scheme put in place by NBN Co on wholesale service performance.

Under new arrangements, NBN Co will provide rebates to retail telcos for missed wholesale service levels, such as missed appointments - and ACMA’s new rules will require those rebates to be passed on to affected customers, in monetary form or in kind.

As retail customers are ultimately those who are inconvenienced by service failures, such as missed appointments, it is only fair that they receive the benefits of the new NBN Co rebate scheme,” O’Loughlin added.

The ACMA said that requiring telcos to publish their service level commitments and be transparent about their performance builds on recommendations of the Government’s Consumer Safeguards Review – Part B Reliability ofServices Final Report.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - an iTWire treasure is a mentor and coach who volunteers also a writer and much valued founding partner of iTWire. 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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