As a mobile, landline or internet customer, you’re protected by certain rules. These rules cover things like advertising, billing and complaints-handling. If you’ve got problems with your telco provider, it’s important to know that you’re protected, under what’s known as the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code.
Understand what you’re signing up for
When you’re choosing a new service or ready to enter into a contract with a provider, you need to know exactly what you’re signing up for. There are rules that telcos must follow to ensure you have all the right information from the get-go, including:
- being clear about what’s on offer in their phone and internet plans—for example, not using confusing terms like ‘cap’ unless the offer refers to a ‘hard cap’ (which is an amount that cannot be exceeded)
- providing unit pricing in advertisements for national calls, standard SMS and downloading 1 MB of data
- making available a Critical Information Summary. Don’t know what that is? It’s a two-page document, which includes essential information about service, pricing and complaint-handling. It helps you to easily understand what’s included in the price and compare this value against alternative plans.
Manage your spending
The last thing anyone wants is bill shock, but there are safeguards to help you manage your usage and prevent nasty surprises when it comes to bill time. Under the TCP Code, your provider must provide mandatory spend management tools, including alerts about your usage level of data, calls and text.
Know your options
Are you experiencing financial difficulties, or have an unexpectedly high bill, and can’t pay by the due date? Your provider must:
- have in place fair billing and credit management arrangements
- advise you about spend management tools, financial hardship advice and options to restrict services.
Got problems with your service? You have a right to complain, and there are rules that providers need to follow to resolve them. This includes having effective and clear complaints-handling processes, with urgent complaints being resolved within two days.
We regularly monitor compliance with these requirements. The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman publishes quarterly data on its website that ranks the major telcos (and some smaller telcos) in terms of their complaint numbers. Communications Compliance also operates to ensure code compliance among industry participants.
For more detailed information, have a read of the TCP Code, or our Reconnecting the Customer report which details the findings of the public inquiry into the customer service and complaint-handling practices of Australian telco providers.