ACMA sets June deadline for consumer code

 

Third revision down to the wire.

The communications watchdog has committed to deciding on whether to accept or reject a revised telco industry code on customer service and advertising by the end of the month.

The Communications Alliance submitted a third revision of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) code to the Australian Communications and Media Authority last month in a last-ditch attempt to have the code registered and put into effect by August 1.

ACMA chairman Chris Chapman told iTnews last week that the watchdog would finalise its decision on the code by the end of the month.

"We indicated that the previous ones that they had lodged with us wouldn't secure registration," Chapman said.

It is understood the watchdog has already held meetings to discuss the May revision of the code, the largest revision of which included the concession for telcos to print unit pricing for SMS messages, phone calls and data blocks on outdoor advertising and flyers.

It has previously opposed the move as unnecessary, despite attacks by consumer representative group ACCAN.

Chapman threatened in April to directly regulate the industry if it ultimately declined to register the code, even on minor grounds.

At the time, Chapman said the March revision of the code would be the final one for consideration. But ongoing discussions with industry led to one more version of the document ultimately being considered.

The code was revised in response to an 18-month inquiry by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, Reconnecting the Customer, that sought answers on spiralling complaint levels from telco customers.

It was initially submitted to the ACMA for registration in February but has since undergone two revisions as the ACMA declined to register the revised code over concerns it did not meet all recommendations laid out by the inquiry.

"We absolutely believe that this code is complete, that it meets not just the requirements of the [Reconnecting the Customer] enquiry, it also meets the test of being the best and most sensible code we can put in place to enhance consumer protections and provide a win-win for consumers and the industry," Communications Alliance chief executive John Stanton told iTnews.

He said the industry body's board would meet next week to further the establishment of Communications Compliance, the industry-funded oversight body that would monitor and judge telco compliance with the code.

Continued delays in registering the code mean initial hopes to put it into effect by August may be set back.

"We don't want to see it registered and thenc ome into effect a week later and catch a whole lot of service providers by surprise, so we need to look at the effective date in the light of how long it takes to register," Stanton said.

Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.


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