Australian competition watchdog, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), has called out NSW-based telco, Airlan, directing it to comply with a Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) decision to refund a former customer.
Airlan, the trading name of Digital Technologies & Telecommunications, is a licensed telecommunications carrier and internet service provider that handles a range of telecommunications, hosting and IT infrastructure services to residential and business customers across Australia.
Its primary focus is in South East New South Wales, covering areas from the Snowy Mountains region to the Sapphire Coast. It claims the region’s largest Wi-Fi hotspot network, with over 180 access points covering Merimbula, Cooma, Jindabyne, Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Thredbo and other areas.
While the amount of the refund is relatively minor, at $660, the ACMA has told the telco to comply with the TIO’s decision, stating that the TIO scheme is an “important consumer safeguard” to ensure confidence in the provision of communications services in Australia.
The TIO is an independent dispute resolution service for small business and residential customers who have a complaint about Australian telephone or internet services. It is mandatory for telcos who offers services to small business and residential customers to join the TIO scheme.
According to the authority, the ombudsman referred Airlan to the ACMA in October last year for not complying with a determination to refund the former Airlan customer.
The ACMA then commenced an investigation into Airlan’s compliance with the scheme after repeated attempts by the TIO to persuade Airlan to obey the determination.
“While the overwhelming number of providers respect the decisions of the independent umpire, the ACMA takes it extremely seriously when a provider doesn’t play by the rules,” the ACMA acting chairman, Richard Bean, said.
The ACMA’s direction comes just weeks after it called out two local telecommunications and internet service providers over their failure to provide clear information to consumers about their internet plans.
In March, the ACMA directed telecommunications providers, Total Group and Direct Connect, to comply with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code after they contravened rules about providing clear and accurate pre-sale information to consumers about their offers.
Also in March, the regulator revealed that it saw a nine per cent surge in telecommunications industry complaints and inquiries in 2015-16, with National Broadband Network-related complaints rising by 145 per cent compared to the year prior.