STRONGER TELCO CONSUMER PROTECTION CODE – FEEDBACK WANTED

Sydney, 9 July 2018 - 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

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