NEW INDUSTRY GUIDANCE TO IMPROVE CREDIT MANAGEMENT IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS
The telecommunications industry reviewed sales, credit assessment and management practices in light of the recent recommendations of the Rank the Telco report by the Financial & Consumer Rights Council, Victoria.
The Industry Guidance Note on Sales Practices and Credit and Debt Management published today evidences the commitment to delivering fair outcomes and identifies a number of best practices currently in place.
The Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) Code is the Industry code of conduct that sets out what Suppliers must do in relation to sales, billing, and credit and debt management, amongst other topics. All Carriage Service Providers (CSPs) who supply Telecommunications Products to Customers in Australia are required to observe and comply with the Code, which is registered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
The TCP Code sets out obligations which all suppliers are required to comply with. Considering the extreme variance in sizes, services provided, and customers of telecommunications service providers in Australia, the operationalisation of these obligations can vary.
The additional guidance is designed to illustrate a range of good practices for CSPs to consider and apply as appropriate.
Industry has also recently worked with Financial Counsellors Australia and the TIO to update the guide for CSPs supporting customers dealing with financial hardship - Assisting and responding to customers in financial hardship Principles and practices – guide for telecommunications providers1.
While the industry performs hundreds of thousands credit applications each month for new customers, with the vast majority processed quickly and efficiently to allow customers to purchase and enjoy their services and stay connected, there are many other factors that can later affect the customers’ ability to fulfil their overall financial commitments.
In these cases, consumers may wish to access their provider’s financial hardship team to discuss appropriate options. Industry is working with Financial Counsellors Australia to create a contact list of hardship teams to facilitate this access.
Industry is committed to ongoing improvement in how it serves customers. Recently, Communications Alliance varied the TCP Code to reference assistance for victims of domestic or family, and is working to develop further guidance on this topic.
Industry has also been working to improve cross industry collaboration on these topics, including attendance at the Vulnerability Roundtable, Thriving Communities Partnership Workshops and Family Violence Workshops with Consumer Affairs, and looks forward to continuing this work.
The latest TIO complaints data, related to credit management, show a recent positive trend with respect to credit management complaints:
|TIO REPORT||Total complaints||Credit management complaint|
|2015/16 Annual report2 ||112,518||14.1%|
|Six Monthly Update July to December 20163 ||65,970||10.5%|
The Industry Guidance Note can be found here.
3. https://www.tio.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/239244/TIO-Six-Monthly-Update-f2.pdf p 6
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.
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