01.New powers for consumers who dispute excessive telco bills
Disgruntled telco customers may soon have greater powers to pursue their complaints, following changes to the Communication Act announced by Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Communication. The changes will allow the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to develop legally enforceable industry standards. Corporations who fail to comply will face penalties of up to $250,000.
ACMA will conduct a formal inquiry into customer service and complaints handling in the telecommunications industry to stem the growing tide of complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) – up to 900 daily. Recently the Ombudsman increased the monetary caps on complaints involving large amounts. For disputes that involve amounts up to $30,000, he can make a decision that is legally binding on the telco. For complaints that involve amounts between $30,00 and $85,000, the Ombudsman can make a recommendation. Examples of disputed bills brought before the TIO involving large amounts are:
- about $50,000 for mobile data download
- about $55,000 for excess internet usage.