Consumer Action has welcomed the Statement of Expectations today from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) setting out clarity for telcos on assisting customers experiencing vulnerability—part of the industry’s obligations in the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code.
The legal centre strongly endorses the focus on ensuring telcos are assisting customers experiencing vulnerability including those in financial difficulty.
“We still hear from people who call our legal advice lines or the National Debt Helpline who are being given the run around or being cut off rather than receiving appropriate hardship support,” said Brigette Rose, Senior Policy Officer at Consumer Action.
In the absence of directly enforceable regulation of the telco industry, clarity around the industry’s current obligations is necessary to improve the practices of this essential service industry.
The ACMA Statement of Expectations calls for telcos to proactively identify customers in vulnerable circumstances and to proactively offer flexible and appropriate support. It also prompts telcos to investigate whether their own sales tactics contributed to a person’s financial hardship.
“In the aftermath of COVID and in these uncertain economic times, telcos must do what the community expects to support their customers in need and to be transparent about how they are doing this. As an essential service it is the least they can do,” said Ms Rose.
Telecommunications are vital for all we do for work, health, education, and banking. Without access to a phone, families and people are isolated and suffer.
“We are calling on the industry to develop and publicly report on its performance against the outcomes-based vulnerability measures in the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code, as proposed by the ACMA,” she added.
“Furthermore, we recommend the new Federal Government modernise the telco industry’s rules so they are robust and directly enforceable by the regulator, similar to that of other essential services.”
Media contact: Mark Pearce, Media and Communications Adviser, 0413 299 567, email@example.com