TCP Code revised to include new provisions

Revised Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code submitted to ACMA for consideration

The revised Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code by the Communications Alliance has included new provisions such as regular customer usage notifications for voice, SMS and data services, stronger controls on telecommunications product advertising, a compliance monitoring body and a unit-pricing regime in advertisements.

Alliance chief executive, John Stanton, said the notifications for voice, SMS and data services will help prevent ‘bill shock’ that had been “big problem” for consumers and service providers for too long.

“Three of those customer usage notifications can be received per month so customers can be in a much better position to manage their monthly spend and avoid the bad news,” he said.

The revised Code also includes stronger controls on telecommunications product advertising and a phase out of the term cap for any non-hard capped plans.

In addition, the Code allows for the creation of a new independent compliance body called Communications Compliance to monitor providers across the industry. It will have the power to refer cases of non-compliance on to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for enforcement.

“To be honest, this was one of the real weaknesses of the 2007 TCP Code,” Stanton said. “The absence of a strong and meaningful compliance framework made it difficult for that Code to achieve its objectives.”

There are also new deadlines for providers to resolve complaints with a unique identifier for consumers to track the progress of their complaint when contacting a help desk. “This will have an improvement on customer satisfaction and effect on the number of complaints we receive,” Stanton said.

The revisions include a summary of the offer document that will help consumers understand products before they buy and allow them to compare offers from different providers.

In addition, a unit-pricing regime in advertisements and online has been included in the Code to make it easier for customers to understand the underlying rates in included value packages and plans.

The revised Code has been submitted for consideration and registration by ACMA.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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