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The ACMA is developing new rules to protect consumers migrating to the NBN, as announced late last year. The ACMA has now consulted on all five measures which focus on improving the way the telco industry handles consumer complaints, the provision of information to consumers, and ensuring that consumers have access to a working service.


ACCAN has submitted on the: Complaints Handling Standard, Record Keeping Rules, Consumer Information Standard, Line Testing Determination, and Service Continuity Standard.

Draft Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints Handling) Industry Standard

The Complaints Handling Standard sets out appropriate processes and time frames for complaint management, alongside a mandate that wholesalers, NBN Co and other intermediaries provide assistance where necessary to retail service providers (RSPs) in complaint handling. The Standard is based on Chapter 8 of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code and gives the ACMA greater enforcement power over complaints handling processes.

ACCAN strongly supports this Standard as it places greater importance on the need to effectively handle complaints, particularly in light of recent complaints data. The TIO reported a 41.1% increase in complaints for the 2016-17 period, and more recently that one in two Australians have experienced issues with their phone or internet service.

We made the following key recommendations in our submission:

  • Timeframes should be shortened to promote fast complaint resolution and continuity of service for consumers
  • Complaint handling processes must be easy for consumers to access, understand and engage with
  • Consumers need to be provided with upfront, transparent and easily accessible information about their right to external dispute resolution, such as the TIO
  • The Australian/New Zealand Standard ‘Guidelines for complaint management in organizations’ (AS/NZS 10002:2014) should be used as a benchmark to develop the draft Standard
  • Consumers should be provided with written documentation of any decisions and key information regarding the resolution process for their complaint

docxACMA Complaints Handling Standard_ACCAN submission827.02 KB

pdfACMA Complaints Handling Standard_ACCAN submission588.63 KB

 

Draft Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints) Record-Keeping Rules (RKRs).

The Complaints RKRs will require NBN service providers to report certain complaints data to the ACMA each quarter, as well as the total number of complaints received across all services, number of complaints resolved at first contact, number escalated to the TIO, and the top three complaint types. The ACMA intends to publish this information on its website.

ACCAN is very supportive of the Complaints RKRs as increased transparency and accountability will help consumers to make better decisions, encourage providers to improve complaints-handling, assist in policy development, and allow the ACMA to more effectively monitor complaints trends and levels. We have made some key recommendations for modification so that:

  • All providers must comply with the RKRs (rather than just those with more than 30,000 services in operation).
  • Providers are required to list more than just the top three complaint types each quarter, and to include more detail about complaint types.
  • A complaint type is added to cover inappropriate sales.
  • Providers are required to report the total number of resolved complaints, as well as the total number of complaints received.
  • Providers are required to report in more detail on how each complaint is resolved.

docxDraft Record Keeping Rules_ACCAN Submission802.75 KB

pdfDraft Record Keeping Rules_ACCAN Submission375.32 KB

 

Draft Telecommunications (NBN Consumer Information) Industry Standard 2018

The Consumer Information Standard sets out rules for telcos to provide specific information to customers about NBN services before selling the service. It requires retailers to make available a Key Facts Sheet that must include information about the service’s expected speed performance; how many devices can be used at the same time on the service during peak times and the types of online activities the service can support; any technical limitations of the service; and advice about checking the compatibility of medical alarm and security alarm services with the NBN.

The Standard also includes rules for advertising NBN services and requirements for RSPs to advise consumers prior to signing up to an NBN service whether they will be able to retain their telephone number.

ACCAN strongly supports the introduction of the Consumer Information Standard and regards it as a necessary step in minimising the confusion and frustration experienced by consumers during the rollout of the NBN. We made the following key recommendations in our submission:

  • Speed tier information must be simple and accompanied by illustrations
  • The Key Facts Sheets should be a separate document to the current Critical Information Summary (which provides basic information about any telco service such as price and inclusions/exclusions) and should be presented in plain language, in a simple format
  • The Key Facts Sheets should include links to further information (in particular to nbn co’s webpages about device compatibility and medical alarms)
  • The Key Facts Sheets should include the RSPs contact details and information about requesting a speed test if the consumer experiences issues

docxACMA Consumer Information_ACCAN submission813.11 KB

pdfACMA Consumer Information_ACCAN submission416.2 KB

 

Draft Telecommunications Service Provider (NBN Line Testing) Determination

ACCAN recently submitted to the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) consultation on the draft Telecommunications Service Provider (NBN Line Testing) Determination. If adopted, the draft Determination means that service providers are required to test NBN services to ensure they are active following connection, or at a customer’s request. The adoption of line testing will mean consumers face fewer delays when switching to the NBN and be able to request speed tests so that they can ensure that they are getting the speeds they are paying for.

ACCAN strongly supports the Determination as it places greater emphasis on the need for appropriate testing of services in order to minimize the costs faced by consumers as a result of disconnection, delayed fault resolution and poor quality service.

We made the following key points in our submission:

  • Post-activation testing of NBN lines is essential to ensuring the identification and rectification of faults at the earliest possible opportunity in order to minimize delays and costs to consumers.
  • Consumer initiated speed testing is an important element of ensuring the accountability of service providers and that consumers get the services that they have contracted and paid for.
  • Consumers must be protected in order to ensure continued confidence and trust in NBN services. As trust is errored so too will consumers’ willingness to pay for services.

pdfACCAN Line Testing Determination Submission495.62 KB

docxACCAN Line Testing Determination Submission814.84 KB

 

Telecommunications (NBN Continuity of Service) Industry Standard 2018

The Continuity of Service Standard will require retailers and wholesalers to ensure that consumers are not left without a working telecommunications service for an unreasonable amount of time when migrating to the NBN. It enables consumers to be reconnected to their old service, if possible. If the consumer agrees, the Standard also allows a CSP to offer an alternative service such as mobile broadband.

ACCAN believes the Standard is a reasonable, necessary, and proportionate intervention to address a fundamental failure in service delivery and existing processes. In order for the Standard to be most effective, ACCAN’s submission states that:

  • There will need to be clearly defined and improved processes that allow all parties in the supply chain to work together to efficiently either reconnect the consumer’s old service or provide an alternative service.
  • Every service needs to be tested before activation, and nbn should take responsibility for any services that aren’t ready.
  • No legacy (existing) service should be cancelled unless and until the NBN service is proven to be working.
  • Any alternative mobile service that is supplied should be provided and paid for by nbn rather than a CSP.
  • The Standard should regulate price and non-price terms so that consumers are not substantially worse-off during migration.
  • The Standard should include priority assistance requirements for consumers with a life-threatening condition, disability, and for small businesses.

docxACMA Continuity of Service_ACCAN Submission807.58 KB

pdfACMA Continuity of Service_ACCAN Submission432.27 KB