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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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ACCAN says today marks a major step forward in important reforms to make calls from mobile phones to 1800/13 numbers free or the cost of a local call, as they currently are from landlines.

The Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) has today committed to amend the relevant regulation following further consultation and have industry implement the changes by January 2015.

New research and guides released today by blind internet expert Dr Scott Hollier from Media Access Australia (MAA) aim to make Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter more accessible for people with a disability - to ensure one in five Australians aren’t left behind as social media use becomes more popular.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), Blind Citizens Australia, Media Access Australia and Vision Australia welcome the announcement by Senator Stephen Conroy of an audio description trial to commence on ABC1 television in the second half of 2012, which will provide a voice description of the visual broadcast for people who are blind or vision impaired. 

Audio description provides a narrative soundtrack that runs alongside audio and describes actions and non-verbal cues that are occurring on screen so that people who are blind and vision-impaired can fully enjoy programs on television.

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.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) says while it is appropriate that Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has launched an investigation into the latest Telstra privacy breach, customers with concerns should consider making their own complaint.

ACCAN says customers with concerns should contact Telstra via its hotline on 133 933. If they want to make a complaint, it’s important they use the word “complaint” when speaking to the customer service representative.

If customers are unsatisfied with Telstra’s response they can make a complaint as an individual to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

The telco industry had more than 197,000 new complaints from its customers lodged with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman in the last financial year, representing a 17.8% increase on the previous year’s result and making this the highest number of complaints on record.

The top three issues for consumers were again customer service, complaint handling, and billing and payments.

“The telco industry has scored another ‘F’ this year for customer service and complaint handling for failing to address its customers' problems in a timely manner,” ACCAN Chief Executive Officer Teresa Corbin said today.

ACCAN says it welcomes the release of a draft revised Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) Code today, giving stakeholders a month to provide feedback as to whether the new rules will improve consumer protections for Australian residential and small business customers.

Peak communications consumer advocacy body ACCAN is celebrating a major step forward in its campaign for fair calls following an announcement today that the telco regulator, the Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) will put an end to the high cost of 1800 and 13 calls from mobiles.

The ACMA has plans to alter what’s known as the “Numbering Plan” so that calls from mobile phones to 1800 numbers will be free and 13 numbers will be a low fixed charge as they are from land lines and pay phones. At present these calls are charged rates of up to $1.78 per minute from mobiles, with the business or organisation at the other end also paying telcos for the cost of the calls.

New research has found consumers often feel so confused and overloaded with information when it comes to buying telco products they have to resort to a range of coping strategies to navigate the highly complex market.

Dr Paul Harrison will present the full findings and recommendations stemming from the report, Seeking Straight Answers: Consumer Decision-Making in Telecommunications, in his keynote address at the 2011 ACCAN National Conference being held in Sydney today and tomorrow.