The telecommunications industry has a set of minimum standards for service providers called industry codes of practice. Created by the industry, these codes contain rules about various situations involving telecommunications.
These rules can help service providers understand consumer complaints and decide on the appropriate way to resolve complaints.
As benchmarks for good practice, codes can also help providers identify recurring and systemic issues and improve their practices generally.
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and industry codes
When the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman deals with complaints, we consider a number of industry codes—particularly those that focus on interactions between consumers and service providers.
The code the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman most frequently refers to is the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code. This is "a code of conduct designed to ensure good service and fair outcomes for all consumers of telecommunications services in Australia" (Communications Alliance).
Industry codes and Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman complaints
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman uses codes to help understand and resolve complaints.
During referral, if the complaint suggests a code rule may not have been followed by a service provider, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman may record the code rule as a "possible" issue on the complaint record.
During conciliation the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman raises code issues with providers and consumers to help them settle on a resolution for a complaint.
For complaints that proceed to investigation the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman collects information and evidence about identified code issues. We assess that material so we can formally decide if there has been a breach of code rules.
How the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman shares information about industry codes
The telecommunications industry and other bodies use Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman code data to monitor industry performance and improve industry practice.
For Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman members, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman publishes monthly reports on possible code issues and confirmed breaches of code rules on the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman member portal.
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman also reports on code data to:
- Australian Communications and Media Authority
- Communications Alliance
- Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
- Australian Communications Consumer Action Network
Compliance with industry codes
Providers must comply with codes that have been registered with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
The ACMA can warn or direct a provider to comply with a code.
The ACMA also has the power to:
- issue an infringement notice up to the value of $6,600, and
- take a matter to the Federal Court, which can impose a penalty of up to $250,000.
For more information visit the ACMA website.