Peak consumer group ACCAN says it cannot support the revised Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) Code that was submitted to the Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) for registration.

“The telecommunications industry has been told by the regulator that it [the Code] needs to change substantially to curb the level of customer complaints about telcos or face direct regulation,” ACCAN Chief Executive Officer Teresa Corbin said today.

“ACCAN cannot support the revised TCP Code because we don’t believe it provides adequate consumer protection.” 

The ACMA told the industry five months ago, following its major Reconnecting the Customer inquiry, that the revised TCP Code must address five key areas or face direct regulation.

ACCAN says it believes the revised Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code does not meet the ACMA’s requirements for advertising pre-sale information and expenditure management. Of the other three areas, it says none have been implemented in full. 

“The TCP Code doesn’t meet the ACMA’s demands in terms of either advertising or spend management,” said Ms Corbin. “Specifically, it doesn’t address requirements regarding advertising and doesn’t give customers the ability to properly monitor their usage and avoid bill shock.”

The main areas where ACCAN says the revised TCP Code still falls short are:

  • Comparative advertising information is limited to large-text advertisements only
  • Advertising does not include number of included minutes (i.e. volumetrics)
  • Misleading advertising terms (e.g. the term ‘cap’) will only be banned for new products
  • No real-time notifications and no transitional measures so customers can track spending
  • No requirement to finalise complaints within 15 days or provide resolution in writing 
  • Inability to detect noncompliance in a timely manner
  • No commercially significant consequences for non-compliance

ACCAN says its decision to vote ‘no’ to the Code’s publication was not one it has taken lightly after 18 months of working together with industry to improve it.

“Despite mutual goodwill and a great deal of effort from all those involved, ultimately, our role is to represent all Australian telecommunications customers. We don’t believe this Code is going to be strong enough to transform the customer experience, produce clear advertising or prevent bill shock.”