Telecommunications providers have been granted a brief reprieve from enforcement action by Australia’s communications watchdog during the coronavirus crisis.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will suspend regulatory policing on certain segments of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The flexibility for telcos to meet some consumer protection obligations will remain in place until 31 July.
Flexibility will cover areas such as financial hardship, for example in retail service providers take additional time to complete customer assessments.
Retail service providers will have extended time to issue bills and record payments while timeframes for usage notifications, monitoring of complaint waiting times and critical information summaries (CIS) will be relaxed.
However, ACMA will continue to enforce all other provisions of the TCP Code, including critical consumer protection safeguards related to credit management, disconnections and financial hardship.
The changes were welcomed by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.
“It is important that the government, regulators, and phone and internet providers maintain their focus on keeping people and small businesses connected and ensuring they have access to financial hardship programs,” Ombudsman Judi Jones said.
“I acknowledge the challenges confronting phone and internet providers with the closure of overseas call centres and increased demand on their customer service teams. We will take the alternative commitments announced today into account when determining what is fair and reasonable in the resolution of complaints.”