INDUSTRY WORKING TO IMPROVE INFORMATION PROVISION ON THIRD-PARTY CHARGES

Sydney, 11 July 2017 – Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, welcomed ACCAN’s Mobile Third-Party Billing Survey, published by the consumer organisation earlier today.

"The survey is an important contribution to understanding customers’ use of and experience with third-party purchases”, he said.

“The survey results highlight that third-party billing, such as direct carrier billing and mobile premium services, provides customers with a convenient payment option for digital content, without the need to provide banking or credit card details, by billing these charges directly to a customer’s bill or deducting them from a prepaid balance.

“However, the survey also points to room for further improvement in terms of informing customers about the nature of these types of services, the way they work, and how to avoid any unexpected billing.

“Major telecoms providers have already taken steps to reduce the incidence of unexpected third-party purchases and implemented double opt-in solutions for subscription-based services. Having said that, our industry is continuing to look at ways to improve the customer experience in this space. If customers have any questions or concerns about these services, they are encouraged to contact their provider directly.”

Mr Stanton also noted that while the industry is working to further improve customer satisfaction in this area, such as clarifying roles and responsibilities as well as messaging around mobile premium services, the overall number of complaints on mobile premium services, which include direct carrier billing, remained at a very low level.

“We acknowledge that not all customers choose to contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) over their issues, but also note that the low share of customers who have experienced unexpected charges and subsequently contact the TIO, points to our industry’s ability to deal with customer complaints in this area and to resolve issues without the need for TIO involvement.

“Complaints about mobile premium services to the TIO account for around 1.5% of all new complaints made. Mobile premium services also facilitate app downloading, TV show voting and donations, thereby potentially making a default setting of barring such services an undesirable proposition for many mobile customers.”

Further information on third-party billing can be found on the ACMA’s website A guide to direct carrier billing and on telecom providers’ websites. Providers also offer the option of having access to these services barred, or spend limits to be set either on a per transaction or monthly basis. These options are especially useful when the person responsible for paying the bill may not always be the same as the user of the device or when children may obtain access to their parents’ mobiles.

Customers should also note that sending a ‘STOP’ message will prevent further purchases being made as part of the respective subscription service but will not necessarily reverse the first purchase that has been billed after a double opt-in consent has been obtained for a subscription service.

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 Communications
Kurt Graham kgraham@sefiani.com.au
0431 478 558