Consumer Action has published a report with case studies and data documenting the ways the telecommunications industry in Australia continues to fail the community, even during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Trouble with Telcos: Stories from 2020 report reveals that many people have been left high and dry by their telecommunications providers, with people being:
- unable to access affordable hardship assistance,
- forced to take out more credit to pay for bills,
- pursued by debt collectors even during hard lockdown, or
- cut off from their ability to access basic services, such as a doctor or school.
“This report clearly shows that the telco industry continues to fall short of community expectations of an essential service provider. An essential service like telecommunications should have proper consumer safeguards in place,” said Gerard Brody, CEO Consumer Action.
“The COVID-19 crisis has confirmed that telecommunications services are essential, not only as a lifeline to family, friends and colleagues, but also as a vital tool for health, work, school and accessing government services,” he said.
“But there is very poor accountability for telcos because the rules are written by industry. There are also substantial limits on the regulator taking effective enforcement, so there’s limited incentive to comply with the weak rules we have.
“One thing is certain: the telco industry has failed to put its customers first, particularly people experiencing hardship during 2020.
“This report adds to the growing evidence of the need for better and more effective safeguards in the telco sector to adequately keep people connected to this essential service and protect people from financial harm,: said Mr Brody.
Note by Consumer Action: We have a number of clients willing to speak to media about their experiences with telco providers. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0413 299 567 to arrange an interview.