Wednesday, 18 October 2017 12:01

New telecoms industry guidance looks to improve credit management for consumers Featured

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In the wake of the latest and damning report by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) on an increasing level of complaints about telcos, a new guidance has been released designed to give consumers improved fair credit management outcomes with their telecommunications providers.

Peak telecommunications industry group, the Communications Alliance, said on Wednesday, after publication of the TIO's report, that the new guidance underlines the industry’s commitment to deliver fair credit management outcomes for all Australian telecommunications consumers.

And CA says the industry had reviewed sales, credit assessment and management practices in light of the recent recommendations of the Rank the Telco report by the Financial & Consumer Rights Council, Victoria.

The CA references the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code which is the Industry code of conduct that sets out what suppliers must do in relation to sales, billing, and credit and debt management and, under which all Carriage Service Providers who supply telecommunications products to customers in Australia are required to observe and comply with the code.

“Industry has also recently worked with Financial Counsellors Australia and the TIO to update the guide for CSPs supporting customers dealing with financial hardship — assisting and responding to customers in financial hardship principles and practices — guide for telecommunications providers,” CA said in a statement released on Wednesday.

According to CA, while the industry performs hundreds of thousands credit applications each month for new customers, “with the vast majority processed quickly and efficiently to allow customers to purchase and enjoy their services and stay connected”, there are many other factors that can later affect the customers’ ability to fulfil their overall financial commitments.

“In these cases, consumers may wish to access their provider’s financial hardship team to discuss appropriate options. Industry is working with Financial Counsellors Australia to create a contact list of hardship teams to facilitate this access.

“Industry is committed to ongoing improvement in how it serves customers. Recently, Communications Alliance varied the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code to reference assistance for victims of domestic or family, and is working to develop further guidance on this topic.

“Industry has also been working to improve cross industry collaboration on these topics, including attendance at the Vulnerability Roundtable, Thriving Communities Partnership Workshops and Family Violence Workshops with Consumer Affairs, and looks forward to continuing this work.”

The latest TIO complaints data, related to credit management, show a recent positive trend with respect to credit management complaints.

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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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