The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has acted against eight telcos for not providing select customers enough information about cutting their services.
The infringing telcos were Exetel, Foxtel, MyRepublic, Optus, Southern Phone Company (SPC), SpinTel, Telstra’s Belong and TPG Telecom’s Vodafone.
All of the telcos bar Vodafone did not provide some customers with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) code-necessitated five working days’ notice before restricting, suspending or disconnecting their services.
Meanwhile, Belong, Foxtel, MyRepublic, SPC, SpinTel and Vodafone didn’t provide customers required information in their restriction, suspension or disconnection notices that ACMA claimed would help customers understand their situation.
Additionally, Foxtel, SPC and SpinTel also did not give customers information about their financial hardship policy in bill reminder notices.
As a result, formal warnings were handed to Belong, Optus and MyRepublic. Meanwhile, Exetel, Foxtel, SPC, SpinTel and Vodafone were directed to comply with the TCP code.
If the telcos continue to not comply with the code, they could be hit with penalties up to $250,000 for failing to take up an ACMA direction.
“Limiting an essential service like phone and internet access has the potential to cause significant distress, making it difficult for people to access their work, education, health and banking services,” ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.
“With the current cost of living pressures, I expect all telcos to take the utmost care with customers who are struggling with bills. Telcos need to lift their game to help their customers or face further regulation.”
A formal warning for MyRepublic is unlikely to be much of a deterrent, as the telco left the Australian market back in February of this year and sold off its subscribers on the National Broadband Network (NBN) to Superloop.