19 April 2018

Government announces telecommunications Consumer Safeguards Review
Federal Member for Wide Bay, Llew O’Brien, has welcomed the release of the Turnbull-McCormack Government’s terms of reference for a review into consumer safeguards in the telecommunications sector. 

The review will be undertaken in three parts which will ensure access to an effective complaints handling and redress scheme, ensuring that consumers have reliable telecommunications services and ensuring that consumers are able to make informed choices and have access to fair and comparable services from providers.

The first stage of the Review will examine the existing model for handling consumer complaints and will identify improvements to drive better outcomes for users.

“The TIO’s six-monthly update report released yesterday shows that the existing model for complaints handling and redress is not working. Customers are continuing to experience poor service and are unable to get their service provider to satisfactorily resolve issues,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The fact that complaints to the TIO are so high across all types of fixed line and mobile services clearly shows that there is room for improvement.

“Minister for Communications Senator Mitch Fifield has directed ACMA to put in place rules to support a better consumer experience during the NBN transition, including a complaints handling standard. It is now time to look at the effectiveness of consumer protections across the board,” Mr O’Brien said.

The terms of reference are available at: www.communications.gov.au/consumer-safeguards-review

Background:
In addition to this review, the Government has already announced a range of new protections specific to consumers migrating to the NBN. Under these rules, the ACMA will require retailers to:
improve their complaints handling processes, including informing customers of the time it will take to fix a service and providing a key point of contact;
perform a line test to confirm a working connection at installation, and undertake a line speed test at any time if requested by a customer;
re-activate a service on a legacy network within a certain timeframe if an erroneous disconnection has occurred and the NBN cannot be connected;
publicly release complaints statistics received by large service providers to help consumers differentiate between retailers based on the quality of their customer service;
explain to consumers how different speed tiers can be applied in their home or business, as well as a ‘critical information summary’ for NBN services when signing consumers to a new contract.

In addition, the ACCC has commenced a broadband monitoring program to provide users with data on the real-world broadband speeds experienced from various retailers. The ACCC has released guidance on how RSPs should advertise broadband speeds so customers can make informed decisions, and has investigated cases of misleading broadband speed marketing and taken enforcement action against RSPs.  ENDS