Brisbane ISP charges customers to make complaints

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Brisbane ISP charges customers to make complaints

‘Impecunious’ Brisbane-based ISP, We.net.au, has been fined over $8,000 for trying to charge fees to customers that complained about them to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).

The Federal Court action was taken by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in response to four instances of non-compliance.

Between 2005 and 2007, we.net’s terms and conditions provided for charges on customers for referring disputes to the TIO.

On 9 July 2007, ACMA directed we.net to make changes to remedy the above terms and conditions within 14 days. This direction was not complied with until January 2008.

In March 2006 and November 2006, the TIO issued determinations requiring we.net to provide small refunds to two customers, each within 14 days. These requests were not complied with until July 2007, ACMA reported.

We.net has been penalised $6,000 while its director, Bradley Francis was penalised $2,000.

ACMA also successfully sought a contribution towards its legal costs.

Both we.net and Francis must also comply with a number of court orders in respect of their future conduct if they wish to engage in business as an internet access provider, according to ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman.

“This outcome sends a clear signal to the telecommunications industry that its participants must comply with the TIO scheme,’ said Chapman.

“This is so, irrespective of whether you’re a major player or a small operator. ACMA intends to ensure that all play by the same rules and are equally accountable, even if the monetary amount giving rise to a breach is relatively insignificant.”

He continued: “The TIO scheme plays a vital role in consumer protection because it provides a free dispute resolution service for consumer complaints.

“It is essential that providers do not try to inhibit their customers from using the TIO, that they abide by the TIO’s decisions and that they assist the TIO to resolve complaints in a timely fashion. ACMA expects industry participants to take their responsibilities in these areas very seriously,” Chapman said.

It is the first action taken in the Federal Court by ACMA to ensure compliance with the TIO scheme.

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