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ACMA gives telcos five months to clean up act

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority has given telecommunications providers a five deadline to improve customer services as a result of the 12 month investigation into the industry’s consumer code of practice.

ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said that improvements are “both urgent and necessary.”

The report revealed that customers were frustrated by confusing plans and pricing, experiencing "bill shock" and suffering from poor customer service from their telco providers. It also found that the current Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code did not adequately protect customers.

The report proposes five substantive changes to make buying and using a mobile phone or internet service much simpler. These include: clearer pricing information in advertisements to allow for price comparison; improved and more consistent pre-sale information about plans; development of meaningful performance metrics; tools for consumers to monitor usage and expenditure; and better complaints-handling by providers.

“If the industry doesn’t develop a code that addresses the ACMA’s concerns, the ACMA will mandate changes through direct regulation,” Chapman warned.

The ACMA has invited industry to incorporate the changes to its Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) Code by February 2012.

“The industry should address these concerns as soon as possible so the industry is now formally on notice to reflect these outcomes in the new TCP Code,” Chapman added. ®

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