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ACMA proposes new rules on telco customer service commitments

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Telcos offering fixed broadband services will be required to publish their customer service commitments and details of their associated performance under new industry rules being proposed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Recent ACMA research showed that while price was important to many consumers, non-price factors such as issues and faults being fixed or good customer service ranked higher overall.

There are currently no requirements for telcos to publish their customer service commitments and the remedies they will provide if commitments are not met, such as rebates or backup modems to maintain connectivity.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the new rules aim to empower consumers to choose a telco based on all factors of the service, not just price, and drive improvements in customer service.

“These new rules will require telcos offering fixed broadband services to be transparent about their service commitments and remedies they are providing their customers, and report on their performance against these,” Ms O’Loughlin said. 

“The commitments from telcos will provide useful information for consumers to help them choose their preferred provider and decide whether they want to stay with them over time,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

Telcos will also be required to put in place arrangements so that their customers benefit from the new rebate scheme put in place by NBN Co on wholesale service performance. Under new arrangements, NBN Co will provide rebates to retail telcos for missed wholesale service levels, such as missed appointments.

ACMA’s new rules will require those rebates to be passed on to affected customers, in monetary form or in kind.

“As retail customers are ultimately those who are inconvenienced by service failures, such as missed appointments, it is only fair that they receive the benefits of the new NBN Co rebate scheme,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

Requiring telcos to publish their service level commitments and be transparent about their performance builds on recommendations of the Government’s Consumer Safeguards Review – Part B Reliability of Services Final Report.

The ACMA has today opened a consultation process on the proposed rules which can be found on the ACMA website. The period for feedback will close on 9 December 2020. The rules are expected to be in place in early 2021.

MR 37/2020

For more information, please contact ACMA Media on 0438 375 776 or media@acma.gov.au.

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