People with particular needs including older people, those living in rural and remote areas, people who speak English as a second language and people with disability or a life-threatening illness have certain rights when it comes to telecommunications.
Your service provider has an obligation to deal with you in certain ways that allow you access to their goods and services and to be heard.
A service provider must offer its products and services in a way that complies with the Disability Discrimination Act. Websites of service providers should also comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Equipment Suppliers need to provide product information that is clear and comprehensible to assist both you and your service provider to identify equipment features that will meet your communication needs as well as provide information on the functional characteristics of their customer equipment used with a standard telephone service.
Find out more about telco equipment for people with disability.
Rural and remote customers
As a rural and remote customer, you may be concerned about mobile coverage. NBN Co Ltd provides an interim satellite service through its retail service providers to initially target those customers without access to a commercial metro-comparable broadband service. For further information you can call the NBN Co Information Line on 1800 881 816 or go to the NBN Co website.
If you have been diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition and depend on a reliable, fixed-line home telephone service, you may be eligible for priority assistance. If you complain, your service provider needs to treat it as an urgent complaint, which means it must—in most circumstances—be resolved within two business days.
English as a second language
Your service provider has a duty to ensure that its sales representatives can communicate with you effectively in English and to use plain language whenever possible in its contracts. If your service provider advertises its services in another language, it has a duty to provide reasonable information to assist people speaking those languages. This may include you appointing an advocate to deal with your service provider on your behalf.
Disadvantaged / vulnerable customers
Your service provider must take reasonable steps to cater for the needs of disadvantaged or vulnerable customers, including training its sales representatives on how to interact with you appropriately.
If you complain about the amount owing on your account, your service provider can't take credit management action about the disputed amount while the matter is being investigated and the issue remains unresolved. Your provider cannot proceed with debt collection action against you without first following the credit-management rules set out in the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code.
If you are having trouble paying your bill, you may be able to access your service provider’s financial hardship policy.
If you have applied for or been accepted as being in financial hardship under your provider’s financial hardship policy and you complain, your provider needs to treat it as an urgent complaint. This means it must—in most circumstances—be resolved within two business days.
For more information about anything in this fact sheet, contact your service provider. If you remain dissatisfied after dealing with your service provider, you can contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).