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Consumer Panel welcomes the TIO’s calls for better consumer protections

In July 2023, the TIO’s Consumer Panel met virtually to discuss the issues facing phone and internet consumers. The telco sector has seen proposals for large-scale change to consumer protections in recent months, so the Panel had plenty to discuss.

The TIO spoke about publishing its systemic investigation report recommending stronger consumer protections through government-made regulation and a registration scheme for telcos. The TIO also shared insights from its Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (TCP) Review submission that pushed for 30 changes to the current code. Panel members were supportive of the TIO’s recommendations for essential consumer protections.

The Panel also spoke about the announcement by the Minister for Communications, the Hon. Michelle Rowland, which directed the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to create a financial hardship standard. The Panel saw this as a welcome step toward appropriate consumer protections for phone and internet consumers.

Continuing the theme from December 2022 and March 2023 meetings, affordability problems continue to plague phone and internet consumers. Panel members also remain concerned about mandatory direct debit for consumers experiencing vulnerability. The Co-chairs, Ombudsman Cynthia Gebert and Lynda Edwards from Financial Counselling Australia, facilitated in-depth discussions to get a clearer picture of how consumers experience these problems and where help is needed.

The Consumer Panel was established in March 2020, following a recommendation from the 2017 independent review. The purpose of the Consumer Panel is to provide the TIO with feedback about the consumer experience of telco products and services, and how the TIO handles complaints. The Consumer Panel consists of 11 panel members who collectively provide a diverse representation of individual and small business consumers to inform our work.

Learn about the Consumer Panel