Telstra takes tougher stance on premium SMS

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Telstra takes tougher stance on premium SMS

Telstra will introduce tough new rules on premium SMS providers before the end of June, including double opt-in requirements and a process to terminate providers with “continued high and unacceptable complaint levels”.

Executive director of mobility products, Ross Fielding, said Telstra will amend its premium SMS service provider conduct policy to extend the double opt-in arrangement to all services regardless of the method of subscription.

A process to terminate providers that have had continued high and unacceptable complaint levels associated with their services will also be introduced, as will an "incentive arrangement" which rewards providers that maintain a good customer service record, Fielding said.

"Telstra recognised, based on the high number of customer complaints received in relation to premium SMS, further measures were required and we are confident these new steps will improve customer service and satisfaction in this area," he said.

"The first and easiest way for Telstra customers to control access to premium SMS services is to simply request a bar on these services - as far as we know, Telstra is the only carrier to provide this option".

The industry, through the Communications Alliance, recently released its own code of conduct to ACMA for registration.

It took 12 months to formulate, although it has been requested by governments for some five years.

The code has already come under criticism from the likes of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy for not going far enough.

It does not include, for example, double opt-in and call barring provisions - something that Telstra will now introduce on its own.

Carriers are not currently required to cut off rogue service providers, although the ACCC has flagged the potential to introduce requirements for this under the Trade Practices Act, should the industry fail to act first.

Telstra has previously introduced measures to combat unwanted subscriptions, including a monitoring program where advertised services are "mystery shopped" and tested to check compliance against Telstra's Conduct Policy.

It also said it had suspended "a number" of premium services as a result of unacceptably high escalated complaint levels.

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