Australian authority gives five-month deadline for better customer service from telecommunications providers

Australian telecommunications providers have been given until February 2012 to improve their customer service and complaint-handling, or they will face tougher regulation.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released a final report after its public inquiry found that the majority of consumers were dissatisfied with their experience of customer care in the industry, regardless of which of the various service providers they are with and which products they have.

It has proposed changes to industry practices in order to improve their experiences. The authority called for clearer pricing information in advertisements so that consumers can easily compare services, as well as providing better and more consistent information to consumers about price plans in-store before sales are made.

ACMA also wants telecommunication providers to develop meaningful metrics to enable consumers to compare deals and providers, as well as tools for them to monitor their usage and costs. It also wants to see evidence of better complaints-handling by the end of the five months.

“The industry should address these concerns as soon as possible so the industry is now formally on notice to reflect these outcomes in the new Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code,” said ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman.

“If the industry doesn’t develop a code that addresses the ACMA’s concerns, the ACMA will mandate changes through direct regulation.”

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