M2 formally warned by ACMA after shifting customer without consent

Ten other telcos, including Exetel and Red Broadband, have been directed by ACMA to submit compliance statements.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has kicked off Wednesday morning by clipping almost a dozen Australian telcos around the ear.

Most egregious was M2 Commander, which was formally warned for transferring a customer's service without their consent, following an unsolicited phone call from M2's sales division.

"The case of transferring a consumer's service without their consent is particularly troubling," ACMA chair Nerida O'Loughlin said.

"At no point did the consumer consent to having their service transferred. This transfer should simply not have occurred."

In response, Vocus Group said the sales agent responsible for the incident in 2017 no longer represented it.

"We take this matter very seriously and immediately implemented additional sales training of our agents, which has been maintained over the last two years," it said.

"We are continually looking to improve how we sell to and service customers and are currently in the process of implementing an improved quality assurance process that will more effectively monitor internal and external sales activities."

ACMA also directed 10 telcos to submit annual compliance statements to it as required under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections code, a new version of which entered into force on August 1.

Among the warned telcos are CNS Group Australia, Exetel, Novel Telecom, Real Sim, Red Broadband, Simply NBN, Telco4U, Trikon, Uniti Wireless, and Voiteck, all of which could be handed a fine or dragged to court if they fail to comply.

"We take breaches of the TCP Code very seriously. When telcos are failing their own customers it's not good enough," O'Loughlin added.

"These actions serve as a message to the wider industry that the ACMA will pursue failures to comply with consumer protection rules."

Last week, ACMA took to Optus, and used its powers to force the telco to get an external audit of the data it provides to the regulator after multiple amendments were made to its submissions and what was described as "ongoing data anomalies".

"Telco complaints data serves an important purpose for industry, consumers, government and the ACMA in understanding the issues being experienced by Australian consumers with their telecommunications services," ACMA chair Nerida O'Loughlin said.

"A failure to provide accurate data reduces the validity of the information and impacts our ability to use it to make informed evidence-based decisions."

ACMA said it would include Optus data in future reports "when the ACMA is confident of its accuracy".

An Optus spokesperson told ZDNet it has since resubmitted revised data to the ACMA, and is confident its future submissions would meet all requirements.

Updated at 14:22pm AEDT, 6 November 2019: The issue has now been resolved.

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