When dealing with your internet service provider on the phone, in email or in person—remember you have the right to:
- be communicated with in plain English
- be treated courteously at all times
- be informed that the call is being recorded
- not be misled or harassed
- have relevant product or account information disclosed in a simple and truthful manner
- request information in an accessible format
- be supported with any specific needs (if you are at a disadvantage or in a vulnerable situation)
- provide your consent to enter into a contract (for a new product or service).
Dealing with an account that has been restricted, suspended or disconnected
Your service provider may restrict, suspend or disconnect your internet service without notice if it has been used for fraud or if you have exceeded the fair-use policy of your contract.
If you repeatedly pay late or fail to pay your bill, your service provider may restrict, suspend or disconnect your service to limit the debt you owe on the account, by giving you five working days notice. In the notice, your service provider must advise you of:
- the outstanding debt you owe and how you may make payment
- any impact this will have on other services you may have with the service provider
- any ongoing or additional charges that will still apply while the telecommunications service is restricted or suspended.
If the service is being disconnected, your service provider must inform you or your guarantor (if applicable) that after disconnection:
- the telecommunications service plan, product and/or telephone number (where applicable) may no longer be available
- the debt outstanding may be disclosed to a debt collection agency and/or sold to a third party
- the debt may be listed as a non-payment default on your credit file with a credit reporting agency, which will affect your ability to apply for future credit or loans
- legal action may be taken to recover the unpaid debt.
Your service provider must also inform you about its financial hardship policy.
If you disagree with the assessment of debt owing on your account, you should contact your service provider to understand the charges and, if necessary, complain about the disputed charges.
You may also ask your service provider to review its decision to restrict, suspend or disconnect your service. If you do so, you should provide reasons for the review.
Know your rights
You have the right to receive services and products that are:
- free from defect (e.g. in proper working order)
- of acceptable quality.
If you have asked for certain features, your internet service provider must accurately describe whether or not they have been included. They must also guarantee that spare parts and repair facilities are available for a reasonable time.
The relevant legislation that protects you as a consumer is the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. This is also referred to as the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
You have the right to enquire about any areas of your internet service if you feel it does not meet contract conditions or information included in the advertisement.
If you feel your provider doesn’t meet the TCP Code rules, in the first instance contact them to discuss your options.
If you think their practices may be affecting a large number of customers, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you do not receive a resolution and you feel their practices are misleading and/or deceptive, you can contact the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission.
Complaining to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) is an independent and free dispute resolution service for small business and residential customers who wish to complain about their phone or internet service.
You can complain to the TIO if you’re:
- unable to resolve the matter satisfactorily with your service provider
- not satisfied with the manner in which you have been treated or how your enquiry has been handled.
If your complaint is about a disputed debt, your service provider must not take further action to recover the debt during either its or the TIO’s investigation of your complaint.