ACMA tells telcos to fix recurring issues

ACMA tells telcos to fix recurring issues

Summary: The Australian Communications and Media Authority has said that it is going to spend 2014 making sure telcos actually fix ongoing problems, rather than just placating unhappy customers with credit.

TOPICS: Telcos, Australia

Australia's telcos crediting customers' accounts when there is a problem, but not addressing the cause of that problem, will be a specific behaviour that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will be looking to put a stop to in 2014.

As part of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) code, the telecommunications companies are supposed to identify and address ongoing problems in the company that affect multiple customers.

Yesterday, the ACMA said that it had heard several cases where telcos were failing to identify systematic problems, and were instead simply trying to resolve each individual problem with the customer at the first point of contact, through offering credit.

The ACMA said this meant that issues were not being investigated to the full degree to find out what the underlying causes.

"The TCP code requires providers to analyse their complaints at least every three months," the ACMA said.

"This is to identify any systematic problems, irrespective of whether the individual complaints may have been resolved at the first point of contact."

The ACMA said telcos that aren't examining the complaints from customers for underlying issues are now "on notice", because the ACMA would be reviewing this aspect of the TCP code this year.

Following the introduction of the TCP code in 2012, then-Communications Minister Stephen Conroy gave the ACMA the ability to introduce consumer protection measures if it believes the code is not being met.

Topics: Telcos, Australia


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


1 comment
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Are they going to slap the telcos with a wet lettuce leaf?

    The authorities allow the telcos to get away with murder.

    Then the authorities stomp around to make themselves look tough, while turning a blind eye to the telcos' misbehavior.

    Example 1. Telcos sign customers up with a voice-recorded contract. Then spring contract surprises on the customer down the track. But the telcos refuse to allow the customers to ever hear that original voice contract. Then the telcos push customers to the brink, trying to force the customers to pay bills they shouldn't, while the customer has no way of verifying if it's a warranted payment. Most customers pay up out of fear, while a minority take it to the telco ombudsman who inevitably rules in favor of the customer. It's a pretty slimy tactic. The authorities won't pick up these tactics when reviewing the complaints that go to the ombudsman. And if the authorities were serious, they'd ban voice contracts.

    Example 2. Virtual telcos (MVNOs) often don't give customers a log-on interface to let the customers know how much data they've used. If they do, it often has a delay of some days. So the customers don't know how much data they've used. To make it worse, the virtual telcos charge by the Megabyte rather than the Kilobyte. The effect is that the customer can't effectively measure how much data is used, because data measuring apps can't handle per-Megabyte measurements (because it needs to be measured from the network side, because it's about how much data reaches the network).

    Now, this ACMA authority thinks that kind of behavior from telcos is OK.