ACMA pulls up 12 telcos on consumer rules compliance

Twelve Australian telcos have been served directions notices by the ACMA for failing to comply with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code lodgement scheme.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has pulled up 12 local telcos on compliance issues, directing them to adhere to the Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) Code, after they failed to comply with the lodgement scheme under the code.

According to the ACMA, local telcos delivering services to consumers are required to lodge documents with the industry compliance body Communications Compliance (CommCom) by the beginning of April each year regarding their compliance to the code, which contains safeguards for consumers.

The 12 telecommunications providers that have been directed by the ACMA to comply with the code include Max Telecom, Netbay Internet, iTalk (Australia), E-Tel Communications, and Aussie Dial. The ACMA issued its most recent round of compliance directions on August 27.

The providers that have been issued with the direction have been the subject of previous ACMA compliance action, according to the regulatory organisation, and for some of the companies in question, it is the second time they failed to lodge compliance documents with CommCom.

The ACMA said that with a direction in place, any further breaches of the code can lead to court proceedings and a pecuniary penalty being imposed.

"These directions by the ACMA send a strong message to industry players who continue to flout code rules," said ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, in a statement.

In July, CommCom announced that 331 telcos had lodged the required documentation for 2014, which it said was a major improvement over the 225 lodgements recorded last year.

In September this year, the ACMA issued formal warnings to the 39 providers who failed to lodge documents for the first time.

"While it is encouraging to see that the majority of active telcos have lodged documents with CommCom on time, it is disappointing that a small number of providers have yet to take their obligations seriously," said Chapman. "In our experience, telcos with a genuine commitment to customer care embed a customer-centric approach and a culture of compliance."

The ACMA's directions come as the organisation warned two of Australia's larger telecommunications providers, iiNet and Dodo, to comply with the TCP Code rules on customer authorisation for direct debits.

The ACMA found that on 12 occasions between June and September 2013, Dodo did not comply with a customer's authorisation on direct debit, and did not cancel a direct debit authorisation within three days on seven occasions.

It also found that iiNet did not comply with customer authorisation on four occasions between June and August in 2013, and did not cancel a direct debit authorisation within three days on three occasions between June and September 2013.

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