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Welcome to the latest current affairs that impact communications consumers. 

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Telstra is once again making changes to its mobile phone plans. If you are an existing Telstra mobile customer, this may impact you.

From 26 August 2019, Telstra will be moving hundreds of thousands of customers off their old mobile phone plans and onto one of Telstra’s new plans.

Starting this week, Telstra is contacting customers who will be affected by this move. It’s important that you keep an eye out on your email inbox or letter box so that you know if you are one of the hundreds of thousands of customers who will be impacted by these changes.

 

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Young woman in yellow shirt on smart phone looks at watch
ACCAN often hears stories from consumers spending hours waiting and trying to resolve problems with telcos (eg on the phone, in shops, or via chat windows). We know that all this time has a value to consumers but what is the cost?

A new report released today from ACCAN provides advice on how to estimate the cost of consumer wait time.

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At ACCAN's national conference, ACCANect 2019, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from experts from across the telco industry, including Delia Rickard - Deputy Chair of the ACCC, Nerida O'Loughlin – Chair of the ACMA and Judi Jones - Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. 

These three organisation protect and enforce telco consumer safeguards in Australia. While they each handle different aspects of telco consumer protection, together they work towards safeguarding Australian telco consumers.

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Last week the communications regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, announced the registration of a new version of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code.

What does this mean for telecommunications consumers?

The Code is important because it contains rules that govern the life cycle of the customer’s relationship with their telco. From the telco’s advertising, to sales and contract/service agreements, through to customer service and billing, and switching telcos. It also covers rules about what telcos have to do to if customers have difficulty paying their bills, how they handle credit and debt management, and financial hardship.

The Code has been around since 2007, and this is its second major revision.

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Person using the computerHow much data do I need?

The data needs of every household are different, but the average household usage of data is between 80GB – 200GB per month. This means that most of the options outlined in our blog here would meet the needs of most households.

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Computer displaying various options on NetflixAlthough wireless broadband services may not compete in terms of speed with a faster fixed broadband connection, they may be suitable for many households currently on a 12mbps NBN service. If you don’t have a home phone anymore, and only use your broadband for basic internet activities like web browsing, emails and social media, it may be time to cut the cord and shift to wireless. These services use the same technology as the internet on your mobile phone.

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Man using the internet on a tablet deviceWhat’s happening?

NBN Co has recently announced a delay to the withdrawal of its discounts on the NBN 12mbps speed tier for fixed line services. The discounts were originally planned to be withdrawn at the end of May but will now stay until the end of July.

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Teresa Corbin CommsDay Summit 2019

ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin recently spoke at the CommsDay Summit, a telecommunications industry event attended by regulators, consumer groups, telco executives and government representatives. Ms Corbin spoke about the inadequacies of the TCP Code in protecting consumers, how Australians with disability are being underserved by the telcos when it comes to their right to appropriate and independent information, and initial outcomes from ACCAN's work highlighting the need for affordable broadband across the country.

Her speech is available below.

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Have you ever gone into a telecommunications store with a plan of what you wanted, but came out with something different? Something more expensive?


ACCAN often hears stories of consumers who were sold more expensive plans or products than they had planned for and sometimes, more than they can afford. This results in difficulties keeping up with payments, and kicks off a spiral of financial problems with lasting consequences. Cases of mis-selling have been widely reported in the media recently1, and continue to occur. In February 2019, poor sales practices leading to customer debt was identified by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman as a systemic issue in complaints2.

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Picture showing map of Australia and voting box exclaiming 'What communications consumers need to know for the Federal Election 2016'

Find resouces on political party policies, election issues and more.