The Australian telecommunications industry regulator has warned that it may review its decision to not take action against telco operator Solo Network over its selling practices if it decides to start doing business in Australia again.
The company exited the Australian telecommunications market shortly after the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) began an investigation in May 2020.
The ACMA has now come to the conclusion that Solo Network breached the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (TCP Code) after it failed to comply with its obligations to sell telecommunications products in a fair and responsible manner on 12 occasions.
The investigation also discovered that, on two occasions, Solo Network transferred the telecommunications services of consumers without attaining their consent.
During multiple sales calls between 12 September and 9 October 2019, Solo Network representatives were not clear about relevant features of their product or the purpose of their calls, the ACMA said.
Some calls also gave a misleading impression that the call was from the consumer’s existing service provider.
Moreover, during some sales calls, Solo Network persisted with a sale when it should have been clear the consumer could not make an informed purchasing decision or fully understand the implications of the decision. This meant Solo Network did not properly obtain consumer consent for some service transfers.
“Solo Network’s failure to sell in a fair and responsible manner disproportionately affected elderly consumers,” the ACMA said in a statement.
However, Solo Network is no longer offering telecommunications products or services. As such, the ACMA is unable to take enforcement action in respect of the industry code breaches identified in its investigation.
Regardless, the ACMA said that if Solo Network chooses to recommence supplying telecommunications services in Australia, the regulator may revisit its decision to not take enforcement action.
The ACMA’s investigation followed a referral from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, who received complaints about the conduct of Solo Network sales representatives.