Telcos warned for not helping vulnerable consumers

Eleven telcos have been hit with formal warnings by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for failing to tell potential new customers that they do not provide Priority Assistance (PA) services, or failing to name a telco that does. 

The eleven telcos are Activ8me, Aussie Broadband, Dodo, Exetel, Foxtel, MyRepublic, Skymesh, Southern Phone, Spintel, TPG, and V4 Telecom.

PA is a customer status available to anyone diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition who depends on a reliable fixed-line home telephone service to be able to call for help at any time.

PA offers the highest level of service available for telephone connection and fault repairs. Telstra is the only telco required to provide these services as a condition of its licence, however others may do so voluntarily.

‘Telcos need to give consumers the full picture before signing them up to a service. This includes disclosing whether they offer PA,’ said ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin. ‘If they don’t offer PA, they must tell people who does.’

The ACMA investigations found the telcos contravened the Telecommunications Act 1997 by either failing to inform customers they do not offer PA services, failing to name a telco that does, or both.

‘We are concerned about any failure to meet obligations that are targeted at helping people in vulnerable circumstances,’ said Ms O’Loughlin.

Following the ACMA investigations, the telcos have committed to revise their training and scripts to ensure PA information is accurately communicated.

‘Telcos are on notice that PA obligations must be taken seriously,’ said Ms O’Loughlin. ‘Further enforcement action may be taken if the issues reoccur including directing the telcos to implement effective systems that ensure their PA obligations are being met, or commencing civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court.’

For more information, please contact ACMA Media on 0438 375 776 or