Consumer Action’s Acting CEO Tania Clarke has congratulated Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland for acting swiftly to address the growing list of concerns from consumer advocates and telco customers doing it tough as the cost-of-living crisis bites.
Minister Rowland said today she will direct the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to make an enforceable standard to ensure appropriate support is provided to telco customers experiencing financial hardship.
“Today’s announcement is a big win for telco customers and a step in the right direction for the growing number of customers experiencing financial hardship,” Ms Clarke said.
“The introduction of an enforceable industry standard will help change how telcos are responding to financial hardship and help the hundreds of thousands of Australians the telco industry has left behind.
“It is encouraging to hear that the Minister has listened and acted in response to the shocking stories we regularly hear from people who call our helplines,” she said.
“Thousands of telco customers are being denied financial hardship assistance or disconnected from this essential service which is astounding given we are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.”
In May, the ACMA reported that telco providers are far less likely than other essential services to provide hardship assistance to Australians when they find themselves in need. In 2022, 406,428 customers had their services disconnected while more than 2.4 million people struggled to pay their telco bills.
“We look forward to working with Minister Rowland, the AMCA and industry to help develop the financial hardship standard, and the further changes needed, to compel the telco industry to act – like other essential services – in the best interests of customers struggling to pay their bills,” Ms Clarke concluded.
Media contact: Mark Pearce, Media and Communications Adviser, 0413 299 567, firstname.lastname@example.org