Comms forum fights bill shock

The Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF) and several industry bodies are calling for a nationwide education program to combat unexpectedly high telecommunications bills.During Tuesday's forum on how to combat telco "bill-shock", consumer groups, industry bodies, carriers, service providers, government and regulatory bodies focussed on the problem of high mobile phone bills.

The Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF) and several industry bodies are calling for a nationwide education program to combat unexpectedly high telecommunications bills.

During Tuesday's forum on how to combat telco "bill-shock", consumer groups, industry bodies, carriers, service providers, government and regulatory bodies focussed on the problem of high mobile phone bills.

Participants of the forum suggested the introduction of consumer education programs to deal with and combat credit management issues, particularly with respect to mobile phones, and also in relation to Internet usage, 190 numbers, international and premium rate services.

The group also called for the need to introduce more widespread call capping and the implementation of an accreditation scheme for sales staff, particularly with respect to businesses reselling telecommunications services to consumers.

They also found that there is a need to introduce credit checks and credit management programs to protect consumers, service providers and carriers.

ACIF chief executive officer Anne Hurley, said the forum achieved even better results than they expected.

"There was recognition that everyone involved wants to do something about the issue of high unexpected bills. There's no mileage for industry to have these huge bills that can't be paid, and consumers definitely don't want to be surprised with them either. So the forum enabled all parties to understand that fact and work towards doing something to resolve the problem," she added.

Hurley said ACIF will be gathering the ideas and suggestions that were produced during the forum and make a report to share with all participants and the Consumer and Financial Literacy Taskforce.

"We will then form a facilitation group and invite representatives from the forum to participate. Our immediate objective will be to implement some of the short term solutions that were developed during the forum and look to implementing some of the medium and long term goals," Hurley said.