07 Sep 2012

Stronger rules and greater transparency for telcos

Under a new industry code of conduct, The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) have been given the ability to quickly apply new rules to telcos if they deceive customers.

Stephen Conroy, Broadband and Communications Minister, announced the new powers for ACMA on Wednesday, which are aimed at ensuring telcos improve their customer service and cease misleading information.

The increased powers mean that ACMA are able to introduce new rules on advertising, phone usage alerts, and complaint handling as complaints arise.

What does this mean for you, the consumer? For one thing, it means more transparent pricing. The use of the word ‘cap’ will be eventually banned, as it is misleading when you are still able to be overcharged on that cap when your usage exceeds a certain amount. As another example, at the moment there is very little way of telling how much you will be charged for a phone call or roaming the internet when overseas. These new rules require telcos to give this information easily and upfront.

If problems do arise between customers and their internet and phone providers, the ACMA are willing to take the offending providers to Federal Court, with fines of up to $250,000. However, the telcos have reportedly welcomed the changes, ensuring the public that they are hopeful  ACMA will not ever need to use the powers they have been given.

The new code is already in effect from the start of this month, with all rules being phased in over the coming months.