The ACMA

Carriers and service providers

Obligations

ACMA directs two telcos to provide clear and accurate information

Two telecommunications companies have contravened important rules about providing clear and accurate pre-sale information to consumers about their current offers.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has directed Total Group Pty Ltd and Direct Connect Pty Ltd to comply with the relevant parts of Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (the code). ACMA investigations found that Direct Connect and Total Group failed to provide information in their critical information summaries about internet plans, including some NBN-related plans, that was clear and accurate and contained all important details.

‘It is vitally important that pre-sale information about all telecommunications products and services, including those using NBN infrastructure, is complete, clear and accurate,’ said acting ACMA Chairman, Richard Bean. ‘Customers must be able to make genuinely informed decisions about charges, equipment and speed.

‘Retail service providers’ NBN services will be one of the ACMA’s 2017 compliance priorities as the number of providers offering services over the NBN continues to increase,’ he added.

Despite being given ample opportunity to correct the problems before the investigations commenced, both Direct Connect and Total Group contravened the relevant clauses of the code relating to these obligations by:

  • Failing to include accurate and clear pricing information in the summary of certain offers.
  • Not including the name of certain plans, the relevant charging information, important inclusions, exclusions, qualifications and restrictions in critical information summaries for a number of offers.
  • Giving contradictory information about products and inclusions on their websites—for instance, the websites referred to one set of products but the accompanying summaries on offer referred to a completely different set of products.

For more information please see the backgrounder below or contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or media@acma.gov.au.

Media release 7/2017 - 10 March

Backgrounder

The code provides consumer safeguards for mobile, landline and internet customers. These safeguards are set out in clear rules that apply to telecommunications providers when communicating and dealing with customers. The rules cover the areas of advertising and point of sale, billing, payment methods, complaints-handling and when customers change their service provider.

The investigations

Direct Connect

The ACMA completed an investigation into Direct Connect Pty Ltd’s compliance with clauses 3.2.1 and 4.1.1 of the code.

The investigation found that Direct Connect contravened important consumer protections relating to the provision of clear and accurate information to consumers (clause 3.2.1), and the critical information summaries provided to customers.  There were serious deficiencies in the way the summaries of current offers permitted comparison of offers and assessment of which offer would best suit a customer’s needs (clause 4.1.1).

The investigation identified non-compliance with the online information and critical information summaries for four mobile plans, three ASDL home phone/bundle plans and two NBN home phone/bundle plans offered on the Direct Connect website on 3 June 2016. Specifically, Direct Connect failed to ensure that as at 3 June 2016:

  • information made available to consumers was clear, accurate, free of material omissions, relevant and current in compliance with clause 3.2.1 of the code
  • the summary of each of its current offers included all the information required by clause 4.1.1(a) of the code
  • the summary of offer met the accessibility requirements set out in clause 4.1.1(d).

Total Group

The investigation found that Total Group contravened important consumer protections relating to the provision of clear and accurate information to consumers (clause 3.2.1) and providing consumers with a critical information summary of its current offers to allow them to compare offers and assess which offer best suits their needs (clause 4.1.1).

The investigation identified non-compliance with the online information and critical information summaries for four ASDL bundle plans and one NBN bundle plan offered on the Total Group website on 6 June 2016. Specifically, Total Group failed to ensure that as at 6 June 2016:

  • information made available to consumers was clear, accurate, free of material omissions, relevant and current in compliance with clause 3.2.1 of the code
  • the summary of each of its current offers included all the information required by clause 4.1.1(a) of the code.

Enforcement

Where the ACMA finds a carriage service provider has contravened the code, it may give that provider a direction to comply with the industry code under sub-section 121(1) of the Telecommunications Act 1997 or issue a formal warning to the provider under section 122 of the Act.

In this instance, the ACMA chose to issue both Total Group and Direct Connect with a direction under section 121(1), as it considered the failure to comply with the relevant clauses (3.2 and 4.1) of the code. Both providers were also given ample opportunity to comply with the code before an investigation was launched but failed to do so.

A direction issued to a provider details actions that must be undertaken to comply with that direction, by a set date. Where the ACMA finds a breach of a direction to comply with the TCP Code, it can issue a remedial direction, an infringement notice, accept an enforceable undertaking or commence civil penalty proceedings.



Last updated: 10 March 2017

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