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Action on telco consumer protections: April to June 2020

Report

We released a report on the impact of the 2019–20 bushfires on the telco network.

Study

We published our telco consumer credit check shadow shopping study.

Investigation

We completed 13 telco investigations. We gave formal warnings to 4 telcos. We are finalising 8 others.

Compliance assessments

We completed 104 compliance assessments. 77 related to new ID rules and publishing consumer information under the Pre-Porting Verification Standard.

MoU

We signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

 

Impact of the 2019–20 bushfires

In February 2020, we started a review into the impact of the bushfires on telco networks. It included how the carriers responded to the crisis.

Our report details the review and looks at network resilience. It also observes the measures used to restore services. The report does not:

  • make any recommendations
  • compare the resilience of different networks.

Telco consumer credit checks

We oversaw the Telco consumer credit checks shadow shopping study. It looked at how Australia’s 3 biggest mobile telcos responded to new credit checking rules in the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (the TCP Code).

Based on the experiences of 37 customers purchasing telco products (in-store, online or over the phone), this small study suggests there may be a need for telcos to better educate in-store staff about their responsibilities to ensure people have the capacity to pay for the products they are signing up to.

Mobile porting fraud

The Pre-Porting Verification Standard commenced on 30 April 2020. It gives safeguards regarding the damage caused by mobile number porting fraud. It requires:

  • Gaining mobile carriage service providers (MCSPs) to take extra ID measures with those requesting ports.
  • MCSPs to publish information on their website about the new ID process. This includes what a customer should do if their number has been fraudulently ported.

We are monitoring compliance with the new rules. Scams across telco networks are an ACMA compliance priority in 2020–21.

TIO Memorandum of Understanding

We signed a revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the TIO.

The MOU sets out a new way of working together on compliance and ongoing issues. It also gives a clear framework for the referral of these issues in complaints. This will help address ongoing customer phone and internet issues.

The MOU also takes steps to make sure telcos join and comply with the TIO scheme.

NBN consumer experience rules

We completed compliance assessments of 4 telcos. These related to the Service Continuity Rules for parallel migrations. The rules make sure post-migration testing is done and that numbers are ported properly.

We also completed a compliance assessment into the NBN Consumer Information Standard.

Figure 1: Completed compliance activities (NBN consumer experience rules)

Figure 1

Other telco compliance activities

We started 8 investigations into telco compliance with:

  • Telecommunications (Consumer Protection & Service Standards) Act 1999 (TCPSS Act) rules on complying with the TIO scheme (6)
  • TCPSS Act rules on joining the TIO scheme (2).

We started 2 investigations into compliance with the TCP Code rules. This related to selling practices and billing accuracy.

We finalised 8 investigations into telco compliance with the TIO scheme. We also completed 5 investigations into telco requirements to join the TIO scheme.

We began 42 assessments of telco compliance with:

  • TCP Code rules on selling practices, debt collection and billing (3)
  • TCPSS Act rules on complying with the TIO scheme (10)
  • TCPSS Act rules on joining the TIO scheme (4)
  • Mobile Premium Services Code rules on customer verification (1)
  • Pre-Porting Verification Standard rules on extra ID measures and publishing consumer information (24).

We completed 104 compliance assessments into telco compliance with:

  • the TCP Code’s financial hardship, direct debit, billing and selling practice rules (8)
  • TCPSS Act rules on complying with the TIO scheme (12)
  • TCPSS Act rules on joining the TIO scheme (4)
  • Universal Service Obligation Payphone Determinations (2)
  • Customer Service Guarantee Mass Service Disruption rules (1)
  • Pre-Porting Verification Standard rules on extra ID measures and publishing consumer information (77).

Figure 2: Completed compliance activities (other than for NBN consumer experience rules)

Figure 2

Finalised investigations and enforcement actions

Provider

Details

Provisions investigated

Enforcement outcome

Provisions of the Telecommunications Act and the TCPSS Act

Unnamed provider*

(8 investigations)

 

TCPSS Act— compliance with the TIO scheme

Subsection 101(1) and subclause 1(1) of Schedule 2 to the Telecommunications Act—failing to comply with the TIO scheme as required by section 132 of the TCPSS Act

 

Breach finding for 8 investigations

 

Enforcement action being considered

Bottle Communications Pty Ltd

ATS Telecoms Pty Ltd

Dataphone Pty Ltd

Essential Online Pty Ltd

Unnamed provider**

TCPSS Act—join the TIO scheme

Subsection 101(1) and subclause 1(1) of Schedule 2 to the Telecommunications Act—failing to join the TIO scheme as required by section 128 of the TCPSS Act

 

Formal warnings issued to Bottle Communications, ATS Telecoms, Dataphone and Essential Online

 

** No breach finding for one unnamed provider

* The ACMA does not generally publish the names of entities that have not been found in breach, or where enforcement actions have not been finalised or published.

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