Telco service provider Lycamobile has been formally warned for breaching the billing accuracy rules in the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (TCP Code).
Lycamobile reported to the Australian Communications and Media Authority that between January 2011 and 31 August 2013 its billing system didn’t always recognise the difference between mobile numbers and fixed line numbers starting with “4”. As a result, 12,596 customers were over-charged a total amount of $13,387 when calling fixed line numbers starting with “4”.
Once it identified the problem, Lycamobile:
- Worked quickly to fix the problem with its billing system
- Self-reported the matter to the ACMA
- Moved to compensate affected customers.
‘Accurate billing is basic to so many aspects—the very efficacy of the TCP Code at one end of the continuum and smart customer care at the other,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. ‘In this case, we acknowledge that Lycamobile acted quickly and proactively to compensate affected customers.'
Lycamobile is the fourth provider the ACMA has found in breach of the TCP Code for failing to ensure accurate billing since the Code came into effect in September 2012. In each case the provider brought the matter to the attention of the ACMA and worked proactively to compensate affected customers. Pro-active self-reporting will almost invariably secure a much more satisfactory outcome.
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Media release 24/2014 - 16 April
In October 2013, Lycamobile self-reported to the ACMA that it had overcharged 12,596 customers a total of $13,387.00. The overcharging occurred between January 2011 and August 2013 and was caused by an error in the billing system.
When Lycamobile discovered the problem it:
- entered into discussions with its mobile network operator
- modified its billing system on a temporary basis to prevent over-charging while a more permanent solution was sought
- included new software in the billing system which validates the length and pre-fix of each number to ensure that the system can differentiate between fixed line and mobile numbers
- developed a plan to credit or refund affected customers.
Where the ACMA finds a breach of the TCP Code, it can give a Formal Warning or give a Direction to Comply with code provisions going forward.
The ACMA cannot, itself, impose penalties or require refunds in response to code breach findings.
The ACMA considered a Formal Warning the most appropriate enforcement action in the circumstances. This took into consideration:
- the number of customers affected;
- the amounts involved
- other recent enforcement action on similar breaches
- the fact that Lycamobile self-reported the incident to the ACMA and has taken appropriate remedial action.
Since the code was registered in September 2012, the ACMA has increased its scrutiny of compliance, particularly where contraventions of the code are suspected.
To date it has:
- issued 109 formal warnings
- given 10 directions to comply
- issued 1 infringement notice