Consumer protection priorities | ACMA

Consumer protection priorities

We are implementing a priorities-focused program for our telecommunications consumer protection compliance and education activities.

Our compliance activities will focus on six areas:

  1. complaints-handling practices 
  2. NBN services
  3. requirements under Chapter 9 of the TCP Code
  4. benchmarking activities
  5. unauthorised customer transfers
  6. MPS register.

Our education activities will focus on three areas:

  1. direct carrier billing
  2. TCP Code
  3. outages/service disruptions.

How are the compliance and education priorities decided?

Priorities are set after gathering intelligence about issues related to compliance, or areas of consumer detriment, and assessing the level of risk. Through this analysis, systemic issues requiring a robust response are identified. This approach enables us to effectively focus our resources on higher-risk issues, while continuing to monitor and appropriately respond to lower-level matters.

The priorities were informed by the findings of two recent ACMA research projects—consumer experience with migration to the NBN, and the second consumer-tracking research study from our Reconnecting the Customer (RTC) Inquiry. Recent TIO complaint statistics have also informed areas of consumer concern, along with:

  • continued discussions with stakeholders, including the ACMA’s Consumer Consultative Forum
  • a number of new requirements introduced into the TCP code in 2016
  • recent compliance activities, where deficiencies in industry compliance exist.

What will each priority focus on?

Compliance priorities

  1. Complaints-handling practices 

As a major source of consumer concern identified in the RTC Inquiry and through TIO statistics and subsequent research, complaints-handling remains a focus for us, as an area in which customer experience can be improved.

  1. NBN services

As consumers migrate to the NBN, there are an increasing number of providers offering new services over the network. Compliance activities will focus on key areas of the TCP Code in relation to NBN services, including critical information summaries (CISs), advertising and contracts.

  1. New requirements in Chapter 9 of the TCP Code

Updated compliance and monitoring arrangements for telco providers under the TCP Code were introduced in 2016. We will be working to ensure that providers are adhering to the new requirements.

  1. Benchmarking activities

The ACMA conducts two annual audits of providers to ensure CISs and advertising (in any medium) are complaint with the TCP Code. These activities generally commence during March each year, with the results used to inform the review of the TCP Code in 2017.

  1. Unauthorised customer transfers

Although the number of providers who transfer customers without authorisation is generally small, there is significant impost on the customer impacted. Unauthorised consumer transfers also appear to disproportionately affect consumers in vulnerable circumstances. 

  1. MPS register audit

The register is a mechanism for consumers to identify MPS content providers and access helpline details. It is important that this register is up-to-date, particularly for customers who have problems.

Education priorities

  1. Direct carrier billing

Consumers experiencing unexpected charges on their mobile bills has led to direct carrier billing becoming an emerging issue. We’ll be enhancing our information to consumers about this issue.

  1. TCP Code

The ACMA will continue its ongoing program to educate consumers about their rights under the TCP Code. Improving awareness levels of CISs (particularly for NBN services) will be an area of key focus.

Industry education will be focused on emerging issues encountered during compliance activities. The announcement of enforcement action will also be used to provide advice on complying with the Code.

  1. Outages/service disruptions

We will continue to provide information to consumers about outages and service disruptions.

Want to keep informed?

For regular updates on compliance issues, follow @acmadotgov on twitter or subscribe to the telco matters e-bulletin.

Last updated: 23 October 2017