New powers to force clearer pricing on Australian mobile, internet plans

The government has granted new powers to the communications and media watchdog that will allow it to enforce radical changes to the way telecoms companies market to and bill their customers.The new powers will allow the Australian Communications and Media Authority to make new rules that will force telcos to offer clearer pricing information in advertisements for mobile and internet plans, increase billing transparency and improve complaint handling processes.To continue reading this report in The Australian, go to:
ACMA armed to punish poor-service telcos
The government is beefing up the communications regulator’s powers so it can take quicker action against telcos that fail to provide better customer service.Communications Minister Stephen Conroy will announce today plans to give the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) the power to issue a “service provider direction”. This will speed up the ACMA’s response time if it finds the industry is not abiding by a new industry-drafted Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) code. powers for the ACMA to strengthen telecommunications consumer protection [news release]
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today announced new measures to ensure that consumers continue to be strongly protected and represented in the telecommunications sector.The Gillard Government is providing additional powers to the Australian Communications and Media Authority to make new rules to better protect telecommunications consumers.The new powers follow the registration of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) code in July and allow the ACMA to act to achieve the following:

  • Clearer pricing information in advertisements
  • Improved information about plans
  • Increased transparency about billing and expenditure arrangements, and
  • Improved complaint handling

“This will provide the ACMA with the flexibility to introduce consumer protection measures if satisfactory consumer outcomes are not being delivered,” Senator Conroy said.”These powers are not a replacement for the existing TCP code, but they are a clear signal to telecommunications companies that we expect to see measureable improvements to customer service.”These new powers allow the ACMA to act quickly if required, particularly for issues that may emerge in the future.”I still expect the industry to take primary responsibility for achieving the outcomes we all seek for consumers.”A new five-year funding deed has also been agreed that will provide the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) over $2 million a year up to 2017. The funding is delivered through a levy on telecommunications companies.”This support provides certainty to ACCAN and will ensure that consumers continue to have a strong and unified voice,” Senator Conroy said.”Since its inception in 2009, ACCAN has established itself as a well-regarded and effective organisation representing telecommunications consumers. A recent review has confirmed that it is helping to achieve a better deal for Australians.”The Gillard Government’s reforms to better protect telecommunications consumers are in addition to recent steps taken to make international mobile roaming rates for Australian travellers more transparent.”Within twelve months, Australian telecommunications companies will have to alert their customers about exactly how much they will be charged when they make a phone call, send a text message, or surf the internet, wherever they may be overseas.”

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