ARN

ACMA issues formal warning to M2, puts ten other telcos on notice

Transferred customer details from another telco without consent

M2 Commander has been caught out by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for failing to comply with consumer protection rules.

ACMA issued a formal warning to M2 Commander for transferring a customer’s service from another telco without their consent.

The transfer followed an unsolicited phone call to the customer from an M2 Commander sales agent.

ACMA chair, Nerida O’Loughlin, said the case of transferring a consumer’s service without their consent was particularly troubling and the breach falls under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) code. 

“At no point did the consumer consent to having their service transferred. This transfer should simply not have occurred,” she said. 

M2, which is part of Vocus Group, responded to ACMA's warning said the external agent that was responsible for the incident in 2017, no longer represents its business. 

"We take this matter very seriously and immediately implemented additional sales training of our agents, which has been maintained over the last two years. We are continually looking to improve how we sell to and service customers and are currently in the process of implementing an improved quality assurance process that will more effectively monitor internal and external sales activities,” a Vocus spokesperson said.

In separate ACMA investigations, ten telcos were found to have breached the TCP Code by failing to lodge annual compliance statements with independent monitoring group Communications Compliance.

The telco's include CNS Group Australia, Exetel, Novel Telecom, Real Sim, Red Broadband, Simply NBN, Telco4U, Trikon, Uniti Wireless and Voiteck.

This has prompted the ACMA to officially issue directions to these telcos to submit annual compliance statements, in showing they are meeting Code obligations or risk facing further action such as fines or court proceedings.

O’Loughlin said the recently strengthened TCP Code contains important consumer safeguards with strict rules in place for areas such as advertising, fair sales practices and helping consumers in financial hardship.

“We take breaches of the TCP Code very seriously. When telcos are failing their own customers it’s not good enough,” said Ms O’Loughlin.

“These actions serve as a message to the wider industry that the ACMA will pursue failures to comply with consumer protection rules.”

Since July 2018, the ACMA has issued 14 directions and seven formal warnings to telcos for failing to comply with the TCP Code.

In August, ACMA rapped seven telcos over the knuckles for failures to abide by new rules governing consumer information about NBN plans offered by retail service providers (RSPs).

The regulator found that Activ8me, Aussie Broadband, Flip TV, Hello Broadband, Mate Communicate, My Net Fone and Telechoice had all contravened the NBN Consumer Information standard. The RSPs paid fines totalling $88,200 for breaching the standard, which came into effect in September last year.