Tuesday, 07 May 2019 11:17

ACMA warns telcos for ‘not helping’ vulnerable customers Featured

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Eleven telcos have been warned by the communications regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, for failing to tell potential new customers that they do not provide priority assistance services, or failing to name a telco that does.

The 11 telcos formally warned by the ACMA are Activ8me, Aussie Broadband, Dodo, Exetel, Foxtel, MyRepublic, Skymesh, Southern Phone, Spintel, TPG, and V4 Telecom.

Investigations by the ACMA found the telcos contravened the Telecommunications Act 1997 by either failing to inform customers they do not offer PA services, failing to name a telco that does, or both.

PA is a customer status available to anyone diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition who depends on a reliable fixed-line home telephone service to be able to call for help at any time.

And, the ACMA says the PA offers the highest level of service available for telephone connection and fault repairs.

Telstra is the only telco required to provide these services as a condition of its licence, but other telcos may do so voluntarily.

“Telcos need to give consumers the full picture before signing them up to a service. This includes disclosing whether they offer PA," said ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin.

“If they don’t offer PA, they must tell people who does.

‘We are concerned about any failure to meet obligations that are targeted at helping people in vulnerable circumstances.”

The ACMA says that following its investigations, the telcos have committed to revise their training and scripts to ensure PA information is accurately communicated.

“Telcos are on notice that PA obligations must be taken seriously,” said O’Loughlin.

“Further enforcement action may be taken if the issues reoccur including directing the telcos to implement effective systems that ensure their PA obligations are being met, or commencing civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year 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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