A third shot at a telecommunications consumer code has recently been submitted by Telcos to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). The Code submission is an attempt to self-regulate a heavily criticised industry and prevent Government intervention by the end of June deadline.  The Code is intended as a resolution to an 18-month investigation by the ACMA into telco customer complaints. As Telco disputes make up a heavy part of credit rating errors to date, we have been watching the outcome of this situation and how it could impact the consumer’s ability to resolve disputes, and prevent credit file errors and default listings which should not be there.

By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repairs and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.

IT News recently reported on developments of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) Code in its article ACMA Sets June Deadline for Consumer Code.

It reports that the ACMA has committed to deciding on whether to accept or reject a revised telco industry code on customer service and advertising by the end of the month, in preparation for registration and implementation by August 1.

“We indicated that the previous ones that they had lodged with us wouldn’t secure registration,” ACMA chairman Chris Chapman told iTnews.

Here is an excerpt from that story:

It is understood the watchdog has already held meetings to discuss the May revision of the code, the largest revision of which included the concession for telcos to print unit pricing for SMS messages, phone calls and data blocks on outdoor advertising and flyers.

It has previously opposed the move as unnecessary, despite attacks by consumer representative group ACCAN.

Chapman threatened in April to directly regulate the industry if it ultimately declined to register the code, even on minor grounds.

At the time, Chapman said the March revision of the code would be the final one for consideration. But ongoing discussions with industry led to one more version of the document ultimately being considered…

It was initially submitted to the ACMA for registration in February but has since undergone two revisions as the ACMA declined to register the revised code over concerns it did not meet all recommendations laid out by the inquiry.

“We absolutely believe that this code is complete, that it meets not just the requirements of the

[Reconnecting the Customer] enquiry, it also meets the test of being the best and most sensible code we can put in place to enhance consumer protections and provide a win-win for consumers and the industry,” Communications Alliance chief executive John Stanton told iTnews.


The ACMA  formally invited the industry to incorporate the following changes to its Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) Code in its report Reconnecting the Customer:

1.Clearer pricing information in advertisements allowing consumers to more easily compare services.
2.Improved and more consistent pre-sale information about plans.
3.Developing meaningful performance metrics which allow consumers to compare providers.
4.Tools for consumers to monitor usage and expenditure.
5.Better complaints-handling by providers.

A shake up in the Telco industry is long overdue. Australians have been caught out time and again with botched bills and unresolved disputes with their Telco providers and their credit files have been damaged as a result.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) revealed its findings on the extent of discontent within the industry in a survey of more than 500 Telco customers who had lodged complaints between July and August 2010.

The TIO survey revealed more than half of consumers reported contact with their service providers five or more times before ringing the TIO. It also revealed most consumers reported spending three hours or more unsuccessfully trying to solve their complaint, with one in 5 saying they spent more than nine hours.

“Consumers who come to the TIO report spending substantial time and effort solving their complaints,” said Ombudsman Simon Cohen.

“They report being transferred from department to department, not being transferred to supervisors and, perhaps most frustratingly, getting no solution or a broken promise for their efforts. They are – by any measure – resilient consumers.”

When disputing bills with the Telco industry, many people are unfairly penalised with a bad credit rating when the matter could have been dealt with better by the Telco in the first place. There is a great number of Telco credit file listings which contain errors, or have been put there unjustly or unfairly. Under current legislation, people do have the right to have credit file discrepancies resolved. But unfortunately it can be difficult for customers if they are not aware of the appropriate legislation and don’t have time to negotiate with creditors.

MyCRA sends out complaints regularly to the TIO requesting investigations into errors that have found their way onto customer credit files.

Hopefully these changes will result in less confusion and complaints in general amongst Telco customers and fewer people who have their good name destroyed unnecessarily due to credit file defaults which should not be there.

For help with removing credit rating errors from credit files, contact MyCRA Credit Rating Repairs on 1300 667 218 or visit the main website www.mycra.com.au.

Image: David Castillo Dominici/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net