26 September 2023

Telcos to be judged by customers’ views

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has proposed new rules for the suppliers of broadband services, requiring the publication of their customer service commitments and performance records.

Chair of ACMA, Nerida O’Loughlin said recent research by the Authority had shown that while price was important to many consumers, non-price factors such as issues and faults being fixed or good customer service ranked higher overall.

“There are currently no requirements for telcos to publish their customer service commitments and the remedies they will provide if commitments are not met, such as rebates or back-up modems to maintain connectivity,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“The new rules aim to empower consumers to choose a telco based on all factors of the service, not just price, and drive improvements in customer service.”

She said the rules required telcos offering fixed broadband services to be transparent about the service commitments and remedies they were providing to their customers, and report on their performance against them.

“The commitments from telcos will provide useful information for consumers to help them choose their preferred provider and decide whether they want to stay with them over time,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“Telcos will also be required to put in place arrangements so that their customers benefit from the new rebate scheme put in place by NBN Co on wholesale service performance.”

Under these arrangements, NBN Co will provide rebates to retail telcos for missed wholesale service levels, such as missed appointments.

“ACMA’s new rules will require those rebates to be passed on to affected customers, in monetary form or in kind,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“As retail customers are ultimately those who are inconvenienced by service failures, such as missed appointments, it is only fair that they receive the benefits of the new NBN Co rebate scheme.”

ACMA has opened consultation on the proposed rules with feedback closing on 9 December. The rules are expected to be in place in early 2021.

The ACMA consultation program can be accessed at this PS News link.

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