The communications regulator is warning of “more investigations [and] more court cases” against telcos that breach new customer service rules starting in four weeks.
The new rules will stop telcos using the word “cap” and force them to offer clear pricing information, usage alerts and better complaint handling services. It also set up Communications Compliance – an industry funded body that will monitor breaches.
General manager of content, consumer and citizen at the Australian Communications and Media Authority, Jennifer McNeill, said it will have little patience for telcos that flaunt the new Telecommunications Consumer Protection code.
The ACMA previously used a gentle ‘engage and educate’ method to help telcos comply, but this attitude would be replaced with a tougher stance, she said.
“You will see more investigations, more directions and more court cases,” she told a room full of telco industry representatives at a briefing.
“We expect immediate compliance with the obligations that have been substantially carried over from the old code.”
Ms McNeill said the ACMA would no longer tolerate “good natured incompetence” as an excuse for breaches and would also ask telcos to substantiate any unbelievable service offers. Staff had been shifted around within the ACMA to bulk up its ability to enforce compliance, she added.
When the code starts on September 1, it will be the first time all Australian telcos are bound by a customer service code enforceable through fines of up to $250,000. The old code was voluntary and impossible to enforce.
The industry body that drafted the code, Communications Alliance, is conducting briefings and training sessions around the country to help companies prepare for the changes.
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