Critical information summaries, fair use policies and contract terms
Providers are required to publish key information about broadband services they offer in a point-of-sale document called a critical information summary (CIS). CIS documents allow consumers to compare the main features, inclusions and costs of broadband services. A CIS must include information such as a description of the service, details of any applicable data allowances and charges (i.e. recurring charges, connection costs, excess data charges or early termination fees) and whether the service is only supplied in a bundle with other services. Every provider must make their CIS documents available to prospective customers at point of sale, including on their website.
CIS documents offer an overview of a provider’s service, with further details of a service, including how it is delivered and a customer’s rights and responsibilities, typically provided in a standard form contract. Standard form contract/customer agreements contain terms such as the circumstances in which your service could be disconnected, terms regarding billing and payments, and terms that relate to privacy and how the service provider treats your personal information.
Many providers also apply a ‘fair use’, ‘acceptable use’ or ‘fair go’ policy to their services. These policies set out limitations on the use of a service – for instance what is reasonable and fair use of the service, and what is unreasonable and not fair use. For example, such policies usually expressly prohibit the use of the service for unlawful activities (e.g. using the service to spam other users in breach of the Spam Act, or using the service to harass, intimidate or threaten others), or in a way that could compromise the provider’s network operation or security. Use of the service may also be limited to residential use as opposed to use for commercial purposes. These policies may also include terms related to excessive data use.
Note that consumers are guaranteed statutory rights under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), details of which are available at www.accc.gov.au. If you have a dispute with your provider about the quality of your service and are unable to resolve it, you can complain to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO): www.tio.com.au.