TELCOS RESPOND QUICKLY TO RESOLVE CONCERNS ABOUT SELLING PRACTICES
Sydney, 17 May 2021 - Communications Alliance today welcomed the prompt, cooperative action taken by telecommunications providers, working with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s systemic investigation on ‘Helping telco consumers sign up to the right phone and internet products.’
Commenting on the release of the TIO’s report today, Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton said: “No consumer should ever feel pressured to sign up to something they don’t want, and they should always have access to clear information on what they are considering. There is always a Critical Information Summary available that provides consumers with a clear summary of terms and conditions, and we encourage all consumers to look at that document before making purchasing decisions.”
“As noted in the TIO’s report, there are extensive consumer protections in place, including requirements in an enforceable industry Code about telecommunications selling practices and on providing Critical Information Summaries. The 2019 revision of the Code also added strict requirements for credit checks. While it is always disappointing when errors are made or providers do not comply with their obligations, there are two strong regulators in this space – the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the ACCC – and the TIO is able to both resolve specific consumer complaints and inform the regulators of what they are seeing.
“We were pleased to see that, once made aware of a problem, RSPs took proactive steps to resolve it, even beyond the complaints raised through the TIO. This included contacting all impacted consumers, issuing refunds and changing forward practices.
“This report shows the valuable role the TIO can play in educating industry and consumers. Some of the reported investigations were not about direct wrongdoing on the part of the telco, but instead found ways that telcos and consumers could better communicate,” Mr Stanton concluded.
Communications Alliance did note that, while the TIO has an important role as the independent dispute resolution body, the TIO’s systemic investigations are not done under the same processes as a regulatory investigation, and thus may not have gone through the same legal checks and balances and are not required to be finalised at the time of publication.
Finally, as highlighted by the TIO, it is also important that consumers take the time to look at the terms and conditions information that is provided to them, to think about whether a product or service is the right one for them, and to consider their options. This is true not only for purchasing from telcos where there are extensive consumer protections in place, but also from non-telco retailers who also sell devices but aren’t subject to the same regulatory scrutiny.
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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