Getting the message on critical information summaries | ACMA


24 September, 2014 10:20 AM


Getting the message on critical information summaries

By Editor

While many consumers find critical information summaries (CIS) useful, others have not ever seen one, according to past ACMA research.

Because this information is so important, we decided to look at what seven mid-sized telco providers are doing to make their summaries accessible to customers, including during telephone sales. We teamed this with an assessment of whether telcos are adequately training their staff about providing the summaries.

Targeting telcos that had generated point-of-sale-related complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), we found that each of the seven providers we assessed complied with these Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code rules. We also asked the providers for information about how they trained their staff to understand consumer needs and advise consumers of their offers. 

Overall, we’re satisfied that the providers audited are taking their obligations about CIS awareness seriously—this is contributing to more consumers being aware of the particulars of the telco services they’re signing up to and is part of the reason for the reduction in consumer complaints to the TIO. We’re also satisfied that providers are adequately training staff about CIS so they can properly explain the particulars of the relevant plans to consumers.

The TCP Code requires telco providers to make CIS available to consumers before they enter into a telco agreement. CIS are designed to give consumers key information about the plan they are considering. This includes information about:

  • pricing
  • contract length
  • termination fee
  • any exclusions
  • key contact points in case something goes wrong

The CIS obligations are:

  • When a provider offers an unsolicited consumer agreement by telephone, a summary of the offer must be sent to the consumer, along with the service agreement and cancellation notice.
  • When a provider offers a solicited consumer agreement by telephone and the consumer agrees to opt out of his or her right to receive the summary of offer before purchase, a copy of the summary of offer must be sent to the consumer within five business days of the sale.