ACMA may reject new telco customer protection code

ACMA may reject new telco customer protection code

The media watchdog has been unimpressed by certain major aspects of the Communications Alliance proposed Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) code

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is less than impressed with the revised Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) code submitted by the Communications Alliance and may consider rejecting it.

ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, was speaking at the Communications Day Summit in Sydney.

The media watchdog launched its Reconnecting the Customer enquiry in 2010 to address the skyrocketing customer complaints within the telecommunications industry.

ACMA subsequently issued telco industry representative body,Communications Alliance, with a formal notice under section 125 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 to revise the “deficient” Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) code.

Communications Alliance counts a number of telcos such as Telstra,Optus, and iiNet.

The authority wanted Communications Alliance to address what it considered pressing issues in the telco industry. These included providing clearer pricing information in telco product advertising,formulating tools so customers can monitor usage and expenditure on their accounts to prevent “bill shock”, and for telcos to improve complaints handling.

After going through many iterations and industry consultation, Communications Alliance submitted its final version of the revised TCP code to the ACMA in February.

If the authority is dissatisfied with the new code, it has the right to reject its own standard.

Chapman acknowledged Communications Alliance’s efforts in working on the revised TCP code, but considered the new document to be a let down.

“The change in the remaining big ticket areas ACMA required Communications Alliance to improve - they were advertising, pre-sales information, and the expenditure usage tools - to date, has been less impressive,” Chapman said.

ACMA has yet to make a decision on whether to register the proposed TCP code.

“But these parts of the code on the current draft [TCP] examined to date by the ACMA do not shape up against the terms of the formal section 125 deficiency notice which Communications Alliance had been presented,” Chapman said.

Judging from the words of the chairman, ACMA may very well consider rejecting the revised TCP code in the authority’s formal meeting on Thursday.

The Communications Day Summit continues.

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