New Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code starts

The registration of the new Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code with materially improved regulations governing the Australian telecommunications industry commences 1 September, this weekend, said Australian Communications and Media Authority Chair, Chris Chapman.

The TCP code, developed by Communications Alliance (CA) and registered by the ACMA, will deliver new enhanced protections to consumers in the areas of complaint handling, financial hardship, advertising, billing and helpful information about international roaming.

‘The new code will also dramatically improve consumer protection in the key areas of bill shock and confusing mobile plans over the next year,’ said Mr Chapman.

‘The ACMA will take a far more robust approach to ensure the industry’s compliance with the new Code and we have resourced up in this space.’ ‘We will conduct more audits and investigations dealing with key areas of consumer detriment and expect substantial changes in industry practices,’ Mr Chapman said.

‘The code applies to all carriage service providers, whether they offer fixed, mobile or internet services,’ Mr Chapman said. ‘This includes network operators and resellers, providers of Voice over Internet Protocol services, phone card services and National Broadband Network retail services.’

‘I am encouraged by how CA is taking a leading role to ramp up industry knowledge of the code by establishing compliance courses and would highly recommend that all the telcos participate,’ he said.

Mr Chapman said that consumers who consider that their service provider is not complying with the code may make a complaint to the provider in the first instance and if they are not satisfied with the resolution, they should contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

‘Telecommunications service providers that do not comply with the code face a direction to comply from the ACMA, while further breaches could lead to Federal Court action where civil penalties of up to $250,000 are possible,’ he said.

The implementation of the code follows the ACMA’s Reconnecting the Customer public inquiry which examined the root causes of the industry’s poor customer service and complaints-handling performance and which mandated the range of improvements required before the TCP code would be registered.

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