Monday, 09 December 2019 14:21

ACMA sets new rules to help prevent ‘unexpectedly’ high mobile bills Featured

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ACMA sets new rules to help prevent ‘unexpectedly’ high mobile bills Image artue84, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

New rules to help prevent unexpectedly high mobile phone bills have been imposed on the telecommunications industry by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The ACMA has announced that it has registered the new rules for third-party mobile content services that are directly billed to peoples’ mobile phone accounts.

Announcing the move on Monday, the ACMA warned that mobile content services, which can include ringtones, competitions, games and premium phone lines, can lead to people making unintentional purchases and running up the cost of their bill.

Under the new rules, the new  Mobile Premium Services Code which came into effect on 3 December - and which was developed by industry peak body Communications Alliance - will impose a $20 monthly cap on mobile content services.

But CA says that people that want to spend above the $20 limit can do so by making a request to their mobile service provider.

With the new rules, providers of these services will also be required to send notifications letting people know when they have spent $10 on any one service - which the ACMA say will help ensure people are better informed of their expenditure.

The code will not cover content services which require people to register and create an account, such as Netflix, Spotify or Google Play, which can be billed to a mobile account.

Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, said the stronger MPS Code will minimise any risk that consumers will unknowingly run up sizeable bills on third party services, "while preserving the convenience that third-party purchasing provides for the many thousands of Australians who choose to use it".

CA lists key safeguards added to the MPS Code as including:

  • a new default monthly spend limit of $20 for all new residential and small business customers to assist consumers with their spend management and to avoid the possibility of ‘bill shock’, while still allowing for a limited number of one-off purchases and charitable giving via SMS. Existing and new customers continue to have the ability to set their own spend limits for such purchases;
  • the inclusion of premium direct billing services in all rules relating to advertising, information provision and supply of the service, complaint handling and mechanisms to unsubscribe and opt-out of such services;
  • a new obligation for telecoms providers to introduce a Customer Verification Process which requires Customer Verification prior to the ability to subscribe to a Subscription Premium Service
  • an obligation for telecoms providers that include third party charges on a customer’s bill to address all enquiries and resolve all complaints they receive relating to those charges, directly with their customer; andstrengthened obligations to ensure consumers are informed on how to bar premium services.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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