Australian govt announces telecom Consumer Safeguards Review

Tuesday 17 April 2018 | 10:07 CET | News
The Australian government has released the terms of reference for a review into consumer safeguards in the telecommunications sector. The review will be undertaken in three parts. According to the government, the first stage of the Review will examine the existing model for handling consumer complaints and will identify improvements to drive better outcomes for users.

The first part seeks to ensure that consumers have access to an effective complaints handling and redress scheme that provides transparency and holds telcos accountable for their performance. The second part aims to ensure consumers have reliable telecommunications services including reasonable timeframes for connections, fault repairs and appointments; as well as potential compensation or penalties against providers. The third part seeks to ensure that consumers are able to make informed choices and are treated fairly by their provider in areas such as customer service, contracts, billing, credit and debt management, and switching providers.

According to the government, the 6-month update report recently released by Australia's Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) “shows that the existing model for complaints handling and redress is not working”. “Customers are continuing to experience poor service, and are unable to get their service provider to satisfactorily resolve issues”, said Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield.

“The fact that complaints to the TIO are still high across all types of fixed line and mobile services clearly shows that telcos need to lift their game. I have already directed the ACMA to put in place rules to support a better consumer experience during the NBN transition, including a complaints handling standard. It is now time to look at the effectiveness of consumer protections across the board.”, Fifield added.

The Department of Communications and the Arts plans to soon release a discussion paper on Redress and Complaints Handling for consultation with industry and the public. Recommendations for redress and complaints handling will be provided to the Government in coming months. Recommendations for all three parts of the consumer safeguards framework will be provided to Government for consideration by the end of 2018.

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Categories: Mobile & Wireless
Companies: ACMA
Countries: Australia
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