Issue No 16: 9 July 2018
ACOMMS 2018 - Shortlist Announced Soon!
Stronger Telco Consumer Protection Code – Feedback Wanted
A stronger Consumer Protection Code for the telecommunications sector has been released for public comment today, designed to further improve customer service for telco users across Australia.
The draft Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code has been revised to strengthen consumer safeguards and adapt to changes in the market and technology.
Communications Alliance released the revised draft for a 30-day period of public and stakeholder feedback, en-route to updating the registered and enforceable industry code of conduct. The TCP Code provides consumer safeguards in the areas of sales, service and contracts, billing, credit and debt management, and for changing suppliers. The revision was made by a Communications Alliance working committee including Consumer organisations, an independent Chair, regulators, government and industry.
Key changes include a new rule on third-party charges that appear on customers’ telco bills, for services such as mobile premium services and direct carrier billing. Under the new rule, Suppliers must address all enquiries and complaints about third-party services, rather than directing customers to the third-party provider.
Additionally, the quarterly Complaints in Context report managed by Communications Alliance will be expanded to encompass many more telcos and to provide transparent and comparable information to consumers on the complaint handling and customer service performance of suppliers.
The Code makes it easier for customers to seek financial hardship assistance, includes a new rule on credit assessment to better protect customers, and is accompanied by upgraded Code compliance monitoring.
The Code has been redrafted for clarity, to ensure suppliers and consumers are able to easily navigate the Code and understand their rights and obligations. It has also been edited to align with the ACMA’s new Complaints Handling Standard.
Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton said “the 2012 revision of the Code was a successful collaboration of industry, consumers, and regulators and led to a drop of almost fifty percent in complaints to the industry Ombudsman in ensuing years.
“Complaints have risen again over the past 18 months, coincident with the accelerated roll-out of the NBN, but also in relation to other services, so it is vital that the industry make full use of tools including the stronger TCP Code to create a better overall consumer experience.
“I thank the members of the Working Committee for their hard work over the past year and look forward to seeing the feedback received during the public comment period.”
The current TCP Code (C628:2015 Incorporating Variation No.1/2017) remains in force.
Following the public comment period, the TCP Code Working Committee will review all public comments, revise the draft as appropriate, vote on the final revised Code, and once published, Communications Alliance will submit the Code (C628:2018) to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for consideration for registration.
The draft revised Code and information on submitting comments can be found here: http://www.commsalliance.com.au/Documents/public-comment/
Industry Reaction to Federal Government’s Consumer Safeguards Review Paper
Communications Alliance has welcomed the long-awaited commencement of the Government’s Consumer Safeguards Review, which came through today’s release of a consultation paper addressing Redress and Complaints Handling in the sector.
Industry is digesting the proposals and will work closely with Government and other stakeholders on any refinements to the current framework that can improve customer service and complaint handling.
Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, noted that some of the reform proposals put forward in the paper are, in fact, already in place. These include:
Mr Stanton said further scrutiny was needed on a proposal to remove the TIO and replace it with a new External Dispute Resolution (EDR) body.
“The proposal for changes to the dispute resolution steps could be readily accommodated by amendments to the TIO’s existing processes, if the proposal is deemed to have merit,
“The TIO is fiercely independent, with a strong independent Chair, independent Directors and even numbers of Directors with consumer and industry experience – it is funded by industry fees but not controlled by industry,
“Whether the cost and disruption inherent in dismantling the TIO and replacing it with a new body can be justified to achieve change that can happen in any event, needs to be critically considered.”
Mr Stanton noted that while the consultation paper spoke of rising TIO complaint volumes, the level of complaints had actually fallen significantly in recent months.
Proposed Exemption for the Use of a Mobile Phone Jammer at Lithgow Correctional Centre
The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) and Communications Alliance provided a joint response to the ACMA’s consultation paper on the proposed exemption for a mobile phone jammer at Lithgow Correctional Centre. The challenges faced by NSW Correctional Services, and other jurisdictions, in managing the illicit use of mobile phones in correctional facilities are well understood. The response presents the view that mobile jamming can be an effective tool provided that the appropriate safeguards are put in place to ensure that there is no interference to public mobile telecommunications networks and their customers.
Comments Sought on Draft Industry Code: Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code
The Explanatory Statement can be found here.
Information on the Working Committee which revised the Code, including the Terms of Reference, can be found here.
The Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code applies to all Carriage Service Providers (CSPs) in Australia. It is a code of conduct for the Telecommunications Industry, providing consumer safeguards in the areas of sales, service and contracts, billing, credit and debt management, and for changing suppliers for mobile, landline, and internet customers. It also sets out a framework of code compliance and monitoring. The Code is registered and enforced by the ACMA.
Suppliers remain obliged to comply with the current registered version of the Code, and that is the version of the Code they will be attesting to for the Communications Compliance attestation due 1 September 2018.
THE PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD FOR THE DRAFT CLOSES AT 5:00 P.M. (AEST) ON FRIDAY 10 AUGUST 2018.
Comments Sought on Draft Industry Code: Mobile Phone Base Station Deployment
A revised draft version of the Mobile Phone Base Station Deployment Code has been released by Communications Alliance for public comment.
The obligations on Carriers set out in the Code are also meant to supplement existing regulatory and legislative requirements which Carriers abide by.
THE PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD FOR THE DRAFT CLOSES AT 5:00 P.M. (AEST) ON FRIDAY 20 JULY 2018.
Comments Sought on Industry Guideline: Communication Support for Emergency Response
Communications Alliance is seeking comments for a scheduled review of the:
G596:2013 Communication Support for Emergency Response Industry Guideline. The purpose of the Guideline is to provide a standard procedure for the cooperative handling by Carriers and Carriage Service Providers of incidents that require the coordination and communication support of Emergency response.
The Guideline can be downloaded from
The aim of the review is to identify:
Further information can be found on the Documents under review webpage.
Submissions received will be made publicly available on the Communications Alliance website unless the submitter requests otherwise.
ALL SUBMISSIONS ARE DUE BY 5:00 P.M. (AEST) ON FRIDAY 20 JULY 2018.
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10-11 September 2018
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