Investigation finds telemarketers pressuring consumers to sign up to NBN
Between January and December 2018, residential consumers and small businesses made 1,729 complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about misleading conduct involving services delivered over the NBN.
The investigation into misleading telemarketing practices found high pressure sales tactics are being used to commit consumers and small businesses to phone and internet contracts they don’t want, don’t need, or can’t afford. The impact of these tactics is particularly felt by some older consumers who don’t use the internet at home.
In publishing the report, Ombudsman Judi Jones said, “Consumers are being told information about moving to the NBN that is simply not true and puts them at a disadvantage. This is concerning behaviour from a small group of phone and internet providers and should stop. In some cases we have shared information about this issue with the relevant regulators so they can consider further action.
“Moving to the NBN is not automatic, and consumers need to know they can make a measured and informed decision about which NBN provider is right for them. If the consumer is feeling pressured by a telemarketer, it is fine to hang up. If they find themselves signed up to a contract they don’t want or need, and can’t fix the issue with the provider, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman can help.”
Ms Jones continued: "I welcome the advice from the industry body, Communications Alliance, that it is working with the regulator to address aspects of this issue.”
What consumers should do to manage a cold call from a telemarketer about moving to the NBN
- Check who the telemarketer is working for. Do this early in the call and hang up if the telemarketer is not clear.
- Check whether you are signing up for a new plan on the old network, or on the NBN. If your area is not ready for the NBN there may be no need to transfer just yet. Go to NBN Co’s website nbnco.com.au to find out if your area is ready to connect to the NBN.
- Take your time to thoroughly understand the details of the new phone or internet plan you are considering before agreeing to a new contract or plan. Ask for a copy of the plan on offer, including a Key Facts Sheet.
- Take your time to consider the offer. Do your own research and compare plans to decide which plan suits you best. Don’t reveal any personal information before you’re ready to sign up for a new plan.
- Check the disconnection date for your existing phone and internet service by contacting your current provider. Check you have received a letter from your current provider or NBN Co about a disconnection date.
- Know your rights about changing your mind. If you’ve been cold called by a telemarketer, in most cases you can cancel the contract within 10 business days.
NOTES TO EDITORS
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About the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman provides a free and independent dispute resolution service for consumers and small businesses who have an unresolved complaint about their phone or internet service. Consumers and small businesses should contact www.tio.com.au or 1800 062 058.
The Telecommunications Industry Sector
The Telecommunications industry regulators are the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) http://www.acma.gov.au Media enquiries to 02 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or email@example.com and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) https://www.accc.gov.au Media enquiries to 1300 138 917, firstname.lastname@example.org
Government and the regulators set policy and regulations for the telecommunications sector.
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) is Australia’s peak communications consumer organisation representing individuals, small businesses and not-for-profit groups as consumers of communications products and services. http://accan.org.au/index.php Media enquiries to 0409 966 931 or 02 9288 4000.
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples from all nations of this land.