The rules that telcos must follow
- The Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (TCP Code) contains rules about sales, service and contracts, billing, credit and debt management and changing telcos.
- The Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints Handling) Industry Standard tells telcos how they must manage the complaints they receive.
- The Customer Service Guarantee Standard (CSG Standard) protects you from poor service and sets timeframes your telco must meet when connecting or repairing your landline service, or attending appointments.
- Telcos have to follow additional rules if they offer NBN services.
Your right to accurate information
Under the TCP Code, you have the right to clear and accurate information about a product or service. It must not be misleading. This covers ads as well as content on a telco’s website or marketing materials.
This is important because it helps you:
- compare telcos
- understand the terms and conditions of telco contracts.
Your right to choose a telco
You can choose who provides your mobile, landline and internet services. Depending on your contract, you can change your telco when you want.
Under the TCP Code, 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:
- accept any new conditions and move to the new network
- end your contract and switch to a different telco altogether.
Make sure you understand your telco contract. You may have to give notice or pay a termination fee if you leave early or change telcos.
Find out how to protect yourself from illegal service transfers.
Your right to quality
Under Australian Consumer Law, 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 sets out how fast the telco must connect the service. It also states how fast they must fix a broken service.
Telstra customers with serious medical conditions may be able to access priority assistance, which provides for faster connection and fault repairs for landline services.
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 may be able to help if you are in financial hardship.
Your right to control direct debits
Some telcos want customers to pay by direct debit. Under the TCP Code:
- 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 Industry Ombudsman.
Other laws that protect consumers
- The Australian Consumer Law contains general rights for all consumers.