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ACCAN's work informs public debate about consumer issues in the communications landscape.  Welcome to our collection of the latest news and current affairs that impact communications consumers. 

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Peak communications consumer group, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), has released a report, called Can You Hear Me?, on the customer service provided by 10 telco providers.

Major findings are that consumers are unimpressed by the amount of time they spend getting a resolution to a telco issue. It takes an average of 13 days, but for those with harder to resolve issues averages blow out to 2 months. The results confirm customer experiences of having to contact providers multiple times about an issue, repeatedly explaining the problem, and disappointing levels of first contact resolution. It also shows that escalating an issue to a formal complaint can be difficult.

ACCAN welcomes the release today of the public comment draft Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code, but says it doesn’t go far enough in providing adequate consumer protections for today’s telecommunications landscape.

The Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code has been released for public comment by peak industry body Communications Alliance. Submissions are due by August 10.

The Code sets out requirements for Retail Service Providers (RSPs) relating to sales, customer service, contracts, billing, credit and debt management, financial hardship, transfers between providers and the compliance framework. It is a key component in the consumer protection framework for the telecommunications industry.

The consumer movement has expressed strong concerns at Government proposals to reduce the remit of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

‘One of the vital elements in the consumer protection regime is the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman scheme. It is fundamentally important to have a robust, well-resourced, independent way for consumers to resolve complaints, to help them sort out the many problems they experience with telecommunications providers’ said ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin.

‘The TIO has been delivering well for consumers, so it would be a backward step if the Government’s review resulted in changes that diminished its role and made complaints more difficult to resolve from a consumer perspective’.

ACCAN welcomes the ACMA’s release of the Service Continuity and Consumer Information Standards.

‘These are important safeguards that will help make the move to NBN-based services easier for consumers, and ACCAN has been calling for such measures for some time’ said Teresa Corbin, ACCAN CEO. ‘Many consumers have contacted us about a range of frustrating experiences as they try to navigate their way between their retail telco and NBN. We welcome these measures, which we believe will go some way to reducing these problems’

The Rural Regional and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC) has welcomed today’s announcement by the Regional Communications Minister, Senator Bridget McKenzie that there will be a fourth round of the Mobile Blackspots Program.

“Despite initial disappointment that further funding was not available in this year’s Federal Budget, we are delighted that the Government has made this important announcement today," National Farmers' Federation (NFF) President Fiona Simson said.

ACCAN welcomes the ACMA’s publication today of the first tranche of new rules to improve consumers’ experience in switching to the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The new rules are: Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints Handling) Industry Standard 2018 and, Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints) Record Keeping Rules 2018.

Teresa Corbin, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network CEO (ACCAN) has presented to the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) on the National Broadband Network in Sydney today with a raft of recommendations emphasising the need for improved service standards for satellite, fixed wireless, ADSL and copper legacy technologies for broadband services to regional, rural and remote areas of Australia. Her opening statement concerned the following issues:

The Rural Regional and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC) is disappointed the Federal Government failed to commit to funding subsequent rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program in this week’s Budget.

Improved mobile coverage is essential for Australia’s agriculture sector to become a $100 billion industry by 2030 and is critical for the health and economic well-being of regional communities.

“Mobile coverage is a major problem for a lot of our members.

"The Government’s failure to commit additional funding to the Mobile Black Spot Program is a let-down for regional communities,” Derek Schoen, NSW Farmers President said.

The RRRCC recognises that some mobile black spot towers, funded under previous rounds of the Program, are yet to be built, and urges the Government and industry partners to expedite the roll-out of this vital infrastructure.

"We are huge supporters of the Program. It is delivering for regional communities and businesses, and will continue to do so with current funding," Australian Communications Consumer Action Network CEO Teresa Corbin said.

ACCAN is alarmed that complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) have increased by 28.7 percent in the six months to December 2017, compared to the same time the previous year. The peak Australian telecommunications consumer body says the TIO’s latest statistics reinforce the need for urgent industry action to put customers first.

“Continuing high numbers of complaints shine a spotlight on weak consumer protections that have existed in telecommunications for some time. This is upheld by the fact that complaint numbers have increased across the board in mobile, fixed line phones and internet services”, said ACCAN CEO, Ms. Teresa Corbin.

“Arguments about whether complaints are the responsibility of the wholesale provider (NBN) or retail service providers do not help consumers resolve these problems quickly. ACCAN strongly supports the new raft of ACMA rules as they are badly needed - particularly the new complaint handling standard and complaints reporting rules.

 

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