Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Australia - Bill Shock Prevention Self-Regulation is Coming

The Australian regulator, ACMA, announced that it ".. agreed to register the new Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code, giving long-suffering telco customers materially greater protection on the big telco issues such as bill shock, confusing mobile plans and poor complaints-handling .. The 2011 Reconnecting the Customer report addressed all of the various customer lifecycle touch points: better advertising practices, more effective information for consumers, tools to avoid bill shock, streamlined complaints-handling, a customer care reporting framework and changes to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) scheme".

See also "24 Operator Groups (4B Subscribers) to Adopt Bill Shock Prevention Measures This Year" (here).

According to ACMA's Reconnecting the Customer report: 

"Bill shock can also be costly for industry. One estimate suggested that wireless broadband-related bill shock had cost one provider, Telstra, as much as $90 million in the 2010 financial year, through waiving fees or writing-off debts owed by consumers who cannot pay their bills".

"As required by the self-regulatory policy underpinning the Telecommunications Act, the ACMA proposes to invite the industry to develop a code that requires service providers to offer measures that allow customers to monitor the accumulation of charges during a billing period. For plans not subject to a hard cap or shaping, this should include: 
  • an equivalent platform-based notification (SMS for phone, email for internet) that alerts consumers at either consumer-nominated or provider-specified (for example, 80 per cent) expenditure/usage points 
  • a consumer-nominated expenditure/usage point that cannot be exceeded without a consumer’s express consent and includes notification at a particular expenditure/usage point 
  • Details about the expenditure/usage point reached, the consequences of any limitations and unavoidable exclusions".
See "A better deal for Australian telco customers" - here.

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