We released our second report on telco consumer financial hardship and complementary qualitative research.
We started 4 telco investigations.
We completed 7 telco investigations. We gave a remedial direction and a direction to comply to one telco. We issued a formal warning to another telco.
We commenced 31 compliance assessments and completed 30. Seventeen of the commenced compliance assessments related to statutory infrastructure providers publishing their wholesale terms and conditions.
We completed a sunset review of 2 Mobile Premium Services (MPS) determinations and registered a variation to the MPS Industry Code.
Telco compliance activities: 2020–21 compliance priorities
Protecting telco customers
On 12 February 2021, we published our second ‘State of play’ report on how telcos deal with customer financial hardship.
The report showed:
- More than 19,500 residential customers and 1,500 small business customers entered a financial hardship arrangement with their telco in 2019–20.
- There was a large increase in the number of small business customers accessing telco financial hardship programs from March to June 2020. The total level of debt from small businesses in financial hardship was 3 times higher in June than in the pre-COVID-19 period of the financial year.
- Improvements for many telcos in the proportion of customers successfully completing financial hardship arrangements during COVID-19.
- At 30 June 2020, around 9,600 residential customers and 840 small business customers remained on financial hardship arrangements.
Qualitative research into the views of financial counsellors
We released a qualitative research report on the views of 10 financial counsellors about working with telcos on financial hardship matters. They said telcos could make it easier for consumers to contact the right staff members and offer more flexibility with repayment arrangements.
We commenced one investigation and 3 compliance assessments into telco compliance with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code. These related to billing accuracy, responsible selling practices and debt management.
We completed 12 compliance assessments into telco compliance with the TCP Code. These related to:
- interactions with disadvantaged and vulnerable consumers
- billing accuracy
- responsible selling practices.
A better move to the NBN
We commenced one investigation and 4 compliance assessments. The investigation related to compliance with the NBN Consumer Information Standard. The 4 compliance assessments related to NBN service continuity rules.
We completed 6 compliance assessments under the NBN service continuity rules.
We completed 3 investigations relating to phone scams. We found 3 telcos had breached rules on better verification of people’s identities prior to porting a phone number from another telco.
These rules help prevent unauthorised mobile number porting and reduce harm to customers from fraud.
These are the first breaches found of the Mobile Number Pre-Porting Additional Identify Verification Standard, which came into force on 30 April 2020.
Other telco compliance activities
We commenced 2 investigations into telco compliance with:
- Telecommunications (Consumer Protection & Service Standards) Act 1999 (TCPSS Act) rules on joining the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) scheme.
- Integrated Public Number Database (IPND) obligations in the Telecommunications Act and IPND Code.
We completed 4 investigations into telco compliance with:
- the TCPSS Act on joining the TIO scheme (1)
- the Prepaid Mobile Services Identity Checks Determination (Prepaid Determination) (1)
- the Prepaid Determination and IPND Code (1)
- the Numbering Plan and the Local Number Portability Code (1).
We commenced 24 compliance assessments into telco compliance with:
- Telecommunications Act 1997 (Telecommunications Act) rules on statutory infrastructure providers publishing their wholesale terms and conditions (17).
- Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints) Record-Keeping Rules (1).
- Emergency Call Service Determination rules (1).
- TCPSS Act rules on complying with the TIO scheme (1).
- TCPSS Act rules on joining the TIO scheme (4).
We completed 12 compliance assessments into telco compliance with:
- Telecommunications Act rules on statutory infrastructure providers publishing their wholesale terms and conditions (8).
- Complaints Handling Standard rules (1).
- TCPSS Act rules on joining the TIO scheme (3).
Sunset review of Mobile Premium Services determinations and variation to the Mobile Premium Services Industry Code
In the March quarter, we completed our review of the Telecommunications Service Provider (Mobile Premium Services) Determination 2010 (No. 1) and Telecommunications Service Provider (Mobile Premium Services) Determination 2010 (No. 2). These are known as the MPS determinations.
MPS determinations regulate the supply of mobile premium services by carriage service providers (CSPs). MPS include ringtones, games, music, chats, news, voting and entry to competitions.
On 18 March 2021, we decided to allow the MPS determinations to cease on their sunset date of 1 April 2021 and to register a varied MPS Industry Code.
The varied code was registered on 31 March 2021 and requires CSPs to allow consumers to bar MPS. Such a requirement previously existed in MPS Determination (No. 1) but applied only to MPS delivered by SMS and MMS. The requirement, as expressed in the MPS Code, applies to a broader range of MPS.