TELCO PROVIDERS PUSHING FOR STRONGER CONSUMER PROTECTIONS IN INDUSTRY CODE

Sydney, 27 February 2019: The telecommunications industry is pushing for stricter rules around credit assessment and selling practices to provide greater protection for Australian communications consumers.

Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton highlighted the importance of the new measures following the release of a report by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) looking at industry sales practices and consumer debt.

The upgraded safeguards are contained in a revised and strengthened version of the enforceable Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Industry Code, recently submitted to the industry regulator, the ACMA, for registration. The TIO has participated in the Code revision process.

The revised TCP Code addresses a number of the issues where the TIO has recommended additional industry action. It requires, for example:
  • stronger rules around responsible selling practices, including that suppliers must ensure – including via disciplinary sanctions – that sales representatives promote and sell products in a fair, transparent and accurate manner;
  • tighter control on credit provision, including spending thresholds, beyond which suppliers must conduct a thorough credit assessment (credit assessment issues accounted for only 0.1% of all complaints received by the TIO during 2017-18);
  • upgraded arrangements to assist consumers in financial hardship; and
  • greater transparency around the relative customer service performance of suppliers.
Mr Stanton welcomed the feedback provided by the TIO, which he said had worked constructively with a number of providers to address individual consumer circumstances.

“Active engagement by the Ombudsman and responsive action by suppliers are hallmarks of an effective co-regulatory system, which is bearing positive results in the telecommunications sector.”

The rate of consumer complaints to the TIO, for example, fell further in the most recent quarter – generating the best results seen since 2015.
Complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) as a proportion of services in operation (SIO) for service providers who participate in the Communications Alliance Complaints-in-Context report decreased to 6.0 complaints per 10,000 services for the period October – December 2018. The full report, including participant ratios, can be found here.

This was now the fourth consecutive quarter in which the ratio has decreased – indicating that focussed efforts by service providers has improved service delivery and the overall customer experience. It is the best ratio since October – December 2015.

Overall complaints to the TIO have also fallen steadily since February 2018 – the TIO Annual Report showed that complaints dropped by 17.8 per cent in the final quarter of 2017/18.

ABOUT COMMUNICATIONS ALLIANCE
Communications Alliance is the primary telecommunications industry body  in Australia. Its membership is drawn from a wide cross-section of the  communications industry, including carriers, carriage and internet  service providers, content providers, search engines, equipment vendors, IT companies, consultants and business groups.

Its vision is to  provide a unified voice for the telecommunications industry and to lead  it into the next generation of converging networks, technologies and  services. The prime mission of Communications Alliance is to promote the growth of the Australian communications industry and the protection of  consumer interests by fostering the highest standards of business ethics and behaviour through industry self-governance. For more details about  Communications Alliance, see www.commsalliance.com.au.

Media information contact:
Sefiani
Kurt Graham kgraham@sefiani.com.au
0431 478 558