$1m fine threat waved at shoddy telcos

Discussion in 'Computing' started by Dr. Sir John Howard, AC, WSCMoF, Mar 13, 2009.

  1. http://www.smh.com.au/national/1m-fine-threat-waved-at-shoddy-telcos-20090313-8x5s.html

    The national competition watchdog has read the riot act to the nation's
    telephone companies, telling an industry conference that the overall poor level
    of consumer service remains unacceptable.

    Addressing the Australian Telecommunications Users Group annual conference
    today, the chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission,
    Graeme Samuel, ordered the industry to lift its game or face the commission's
    wrath - backed up by beefed-up consumer protection laws set to come into effect
    next year.

    "The ACCC is drawing a line in the sand we're saying to the poor performers, and
    there are many of them, mend your ways," Mr Samuel said. "If all carriers do not
    exhibit a responsible attitude to closing down rogue operators they must expect
    the ACCC to pursue the [new] remedies available."

    Often derided as a toothless tiger, the ACCC has sprouted two new teeth under
    laws which Mr Samuel warned will be applied in full force against substandard
    telecommunications companies.

    The commission will be empowered to impose financial penalties in excess of $1
    million against companies and $220,000 against individuals under the new laws,
    and will be granted access to the Federal Court to obtain financial redress on
    behalf of multiple consumers who have been ripped off by any telco.

    Mr Samuel said consumer protection issues in the telecommunications industry
    consistently ranked number one on the most complained about list at the ACCC
    Infocentre, with more than 4000 complaints each year.

    Problems such as misleading advertising, unfair contracts and deceptive mobile
    phone competitions had been allowed to proliferate by service providers,
    publishers and carriers, who had "turned a blind eye while taking a slice of the
    profits", he said.

    It was also no longer acceptable for carriers to wash their hands of
    responsibility as operators use their networks to entrap phone company customers
    with unwanted, expensive and difficult to unwind subscription services, he said.

    Other ACCC concerns included advertising practices, consumers not understanding
    contracts, including inadvertently signing up to a subscription service and
    difficulties with unsubscribing and the complaints handling process.

    Mr Samuel also said the ACCC was prepared to take on publishers and broadcasters
    which knowingly ran misleading and deceptive advertisements for
    telecommunications services and products, and that publications specifically
    targeting younger readers would be scrutinised for misleading advertisements
    spruiking mobile premium services.

    Mr Samuel's tirade against the telcos caps off a week which has seen the
    country's largest provider, Telstra, publicly pilloried for changing its
    landline billing system, a move which will collectively cost consumers tens of
    thousands of dollars when making STD and international calls.

    Telstra's main rival, Optus, has dismissed any likelihood of following in its
    competitor's footsteps and switching from per second billing to 30 second block
    billing.

    But Optus too has come under fire, over its plans to charge consumers an
    additional $2.20 per phone bill from May 1, if they wish to continue receiving
    paper bills by mail.
     
    Dr. Sir John Howard, AC, WSCMoF, Mar 13, 2009
    #1
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  2. Dr. Sir John Howard, AC, WSCMoF

    rjw Guest

    And until they actually start fining these mongrels they still be
    toothless.

    ~rjw
     
    rjw, Mar 13, 2009
    #2
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