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Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) introduced an updated version of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) Code that took effect on the 1st September 2012. From a review of the new code, it has been created to cover financial hardships for consumers and obligations placed on retail providers to assist with consumer complaints processes.

The main points of the code are;

- rules set on retail telco's to ensure clear advertising of pricing to assist with comparison shopping and misleading pricing plans,
- an assurance that consumers are fully aware of what they are signing up for with retail providers which would be included in a "critical information statement",
- enhanced cost management indicators for consumers by retailers to avoid the "shock" of large invoices. The TIO will enforce notifications of usage to customers including 48 hour notification when usage values reach 50%, 85% and 100% limits, (this is applicable to specific providers and services only),
- better TIO complaint handling procedures enhanced by making retailers assign unique reference numbers to all complaints lodged. The theory is that this will provide a better experience for the consumer because they will not have to explain the details of the complaint each time they speak with their provider and,
- the introduction of a new body called the Communication Compliance Body primarily looking to educate telecommunications retailers about the specific requirements of their services.

It is a bold and attentive move by the TIO that is constantly seeking to ensure customers in the telecommunications industry are looked out for in relation to cost shocks, fair pricing and allowing their voice to be heard when they are treated unfairly. Although, from a service provider's perspective, it does place additional duties and obligations on administration and there appear to be no obligations placed on consumers as a two way consideration of the relationship.

The new code's clauses will be introduced in a staggered approach over the next 18 months depending on particular clauses and features that the TIO are looking implement - for example, the cost management implications are to be implemented by mid 2013.

Part of this move is to create a much closer working relationship between the TIO and the retail telco's and thus promote awareness to consumers via their providers of the function and processes of the TIO. Again, it is a great move that the management of Australian telco's are applauding because the consumer will then have more confidence in dealing with providers and be clear on how to resolve disputes quickly.

Ozetel is currently in the process of reviewing current documentation and systems to ensure that these new Code requirements are met and we will keep customers informed as we proceed through the implementations.

The full document is available also should you require an indepth look -

Of course, Ozetel customers are very much welcome to call the team on 1300 OZETEL (693835) for more information as well.

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