On 11 July 2012, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) agreed to register a new Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) Code, prepared by the Communications Alliance after extensive industry, consumer and community consultation. The new TCP Code will put in place greater protection for consumers on issues like financial over commitment and poor complaint handling.
The new Code, which commences on 1 September 2012, puts into place a number of changes over the next 18 months, including:
- Clearer advertising, avoiding misleading claims and helping consumers to comparison shop, for example, by including unit pricing information in all text-based advertising.
- More information to allow consumers to better understand what they’re signing up to, for example, by ensuring providers provide pricing and product information at the point of sale through a critical information statement.
- Increased spend management tools to help avoid bill shock, for example, providers must give warnings to consumers when they reach 50%, 85% and 100% usage within 48 hours of reaching that level.
- Better complaint handling by requiring providers to assign unique reference numbers to every complaint, reducing the need for consumers to explain their complaint again each time they speak to their provider.
- Introduction of a new Communication Compliance body that will initially play an educational role with suppliers.
The new Code will commence in a staggered approach. For example, Code provisions about advertising will start in the next few months, whereas new rules for spend management tools are to be implemented in the second half of 2013.
Providers will be required to more clearly promote the TIO through their complaint handling processes. We see this as an opportunity to work with service providers to increase awareness of the TIO, including informing consumers about when they can contact us.
We will keep you informed of any TCP Code-related changes to TIO processes. If you would like more information about how the new code will impact the work of the TIO, contact your account manager or Industry Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More generally, if you would like to find out more about the new TCP Code, the following resources are available:
- Communications Alliance website
- ACMA’s link to the new TCP Code 2012
- ACMA’s Media release on 11 July 2012
- ACMA’s Frequently Asked Questions about the TCP Code