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How the law protects telecommunications customers

If you have a mobile, landline or internet product or service, the law protects your rights.

The rules that telcos must follow

The Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (TCP Code) contains rules that telcos must follow.

The Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints Handling) Industry Standard tells telcos how they must manage complaints.

The Customer Service Guarantee Standard (CSG Standard) protects you from poor service.

Providers have to follow additional rules if they offer NBN services.

Your right to accurate information

You have the right to clear and accurate information about the product or service. It must not be misleading. This covers ads as well as content on a telco’s website or printed brochure.

This is important because it helps you:

Your right to choose a telco

You can choose who provides your telecommunications services. Depending on your contract, you can change your telco when you want.

A telco must not transfer your service to another telco without your consent. If they change their network operator, they have to tell you. You can choose to:

Make sure you understand your contract. You may have to give notice or pay a termination fee if you leave early.

Find out how to protect yourself from illegal service transfers.

Your right to quality

You have the right to expect that your product or service:

  • works properly
  • has no defects
  • is of acceptable quality

The telco must say whether a product includes features you ask for. They must also guarantee that spare parts and repair facilities are available for a reasonable time.

Report any faults to your telco. If you are not happy with how they deal with the fault, send them a complaint. To find out how to complain, check:

  • the product or plan's Critical Information Summary
  • the telco's website

Your right to a fast landline connection or repair

For landlines, the Customer Service Guarantee Standard says how fast the telco must connect the service. It also says how fast they must fix a broken service. 

Customers with some serious medical conditions can access 'priority assistance' for urgent service.

Your right to a clear bill

The telco must give you access to a range of billing information. This may vary depending on the type of service you use.

They may give you tools so you can:

  • track your spending
  • receive alerts when you reach a certain amount of your monthly allowance

If you have trouble paying your bills, let your telco know as soon as possible. They have to help if you are in financial hardship.

Your right to control direct debits

Some telcos want customers to pay by direct debit. The TCP Code ensures that:

  • you can check the charges before the transaction
  • you can ask for copies of bills up to 2 years back
  • you have an easy way to cancel the direct debit authorisation
  • the telco can only withdraw money on the date you specify
  • the telco has to cancel your direct debit within 3 working days of your request

Your telco is not allowed to take money via a direct debit that you have not agreed to. This is the rule, even if the money is part of an unresolved complaint.

Your right to complain

Always complain to your telco first. They have to follow a process for dealing with your complaint.

If you are not happy with the way they have resolved your complaint, you can contact the telecommunications ombudsman.

Other laws that protect consumers

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