ACMA directs Business Class Telecom to comply with consumer protections code

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has directed Business Class Telecom (BCT), a Melbourne-based telecommunications provider, to comply with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code, after the ACMA found it had contravened consumer sales and customer transfers rules.

The ACMA’s investigation into BCT commenced in June 2014, drawing on earlier complaints made to the TIO, and found BCT had breached the TCP Code on multiple occasions in the period assessed.

The TCP Code sets out what a provider must do before transferring a customer’s service, including obtaining the customer’s consent. Consent, where the customer agrees to the transfer to the new provider, can be obtained only after the new provider has given sufficient information to allow the customer to make an informed choice.

‘It is essential that consumers be provided with clear and accurate information to allow informed consent,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. ‘Providers are on notice that poor customer transfer practices will not be tolerated.’

The ACMA investigation involved a comprehensive assessment of how BCT communicated with prospective customers. Among other breaches, the ACMA’s investigation found that BCT failed to ensure that:

  • it had taken reasonable steps to gain consent on eight occasions
  • the consumer was informed of the identity of the gaining supplier before initiating the transfer, again on eight occasions
  • the consumer was made aware that they may have to pay a penalty or cancellation fee to their existing supplier on 27 occasions.

BCT has undertaken a number of changes to its operations since the contraventions occurred. The ACMA will look at the effects of these changes as part of its ongoing monitoring of customer sales and transfer practices.