Lycamobile fined AU$12K for breaching telco code

Lycamobile has been slapped with a AU$12,600 fine after failing to lodge its annual TCP Code compliance documents, the ACMA has said.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Lycamobile has been forced to pay a AU$12,600 fine after failing to comply with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has said.

According to the ACMA, Lycamobile had failed to lodge its annual TCP Code compliance documents, which ACMA Acting Chair Creina Chapman called "an important industry obligation".

"The TCP Code is designed to ensure good service and fair outcomes for all Australian consumers of telecommunications products," Chapman said.

"[The documents] provides information about a telco's processes and systems to ensure it adheres to the code."

In total for 2017, the ACMA issued five directions to comply with the TCP Code, seven formal warnings, and one infringement notice in relation to TCP Code compliance documents. For the year, 358 carriers submitted the documents.

Earlier this week, Telstra was also directed by the ACMA to commission an independent audit of its priority assistance obligations compliance after the federal government agency found the telco to be in breach of assisting customers with life-threatening medical conditions.

"The remedial direction results from an investigation into Telstra following two incidents in 2017 where customers with serious, chronic health conditions were unable to use their Telstra landline service," the ACMA said on Monday morning.

"Neither customer was registered for priority assistance, but both made plain their serious health conditions and their need for a working telephone service.

"In both cases, the customers passed away."

Other recent action by the ACMA saw it warn three National Broadband Network (NBN) retailers in April for not providing sufficient critical information on their broadband offerings.

In what it called an "intelligence sweep" of all 131 retailers offering NBN services, the ACMA said 97 percent provided one or more critical information summaries (CIS) on their websites, but that Your Call Telecom, EHW Technology, and Easy Internet Services received formal warnings for not doing so.

A CIS, required under the TCP Code, must include a description of the service, additional charge information, minimum terms, and inclusions, exclusions, and conditions.

In October last year, the ACMA also formally warned telecommunications provider Crunch Tel over transferring its customers without first gaining their consent.

The TCP Code, which first came into effect in July 2012, serves the primary purposes of requiring telcos to provide consumers with clear information about what their mobile phone plans offer, including a two-page summary of every plan; notify customers about how much voice and data they have used under their plan; and suggest spend-management tools to prevent future overuse.

It also constrains their actions in regards to consumers.

The ACMA had updated its TCP Code three years ago in an effort to provide more flexibility for telcos by simplifying how they provide information, removing duplication under Australian Consumer Law and the Privacy Act, and cutting down on repetition of obligations throughout the code.

Customer complaints handling was also made more effective and timely under the refreshed code.

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