The TIO’s Industry Improvement team has monitored 20 providers about misleading telemarketing practices in the past year. More than 950 consumers made complaints about being misled into transferring their services to those providers in that period.
Three providers have been referred to regulators for not improving their sales practices as a result of a TIO systemic investigation into these issues in the last year, while others have changed their sales tactics.
Issues faced by consumers
Consumers affected by this issue tell us that their services are transferred after they receive a call from a telemarketer who claims to be from the consumer’s existing provider. Other consumers are told that by saying “yes”, they agree to a discount or to have information sent to them.
These consumers do not realise that their service has been transferred until they receive a bill from the new provider. Some other issues that consumers report are:
- the new provider tries to transfer the service back after the consumer has returned to their original provider without the consumer’s permission
- they are not given information about cooling off periods, as required by Australian Consumer Law, and
- the provider transfers the service without consent from the account holder.
How the TIO helps
The Industry Improvement team has been working with these providers to help them improve their sales practices. This includes recommending that providers amend their scripts so consumers are clear about which company they are calling from and to tighten up their transfer approval processes. Other telcos have terminated contracts with telemarketing companies involved in misleading practices.
If after an investigation we are not satisfied that the provider has tried to improve their practices, we may refer them to the Australian Communications and Media Authority or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Consumers who do not wish to receive cold calls can add their number to the Do Not Call Register at www.donotcall.gov.au