ACCC to target telco consumer guarantees this year

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ACCC to target telco consumer guarantees this year

Wants buyers to know what they're entitled to under the law.

Australia's consumer watchdog is setting its sights on consumer guarantees in the telecommunications industry this year as it moves beyond "traditional" focus areas like clothing and household appliance refunds and replacements.

In a speech to the National Consumer Congress today, ACCC chairman Rod Sims put telcos on notice to expect greater scrutiny in 2017.

"The ACCC will be looking at consumer guarantees for more complex products such as motor vehicles and the provision of services in industries such as telecommunications providers and airlines,” Sims said.

The focus will involve investigations into how often consumers are told they need to contact a manufacturer to access a warranty for problem products, when the matter is covered by their guaranteed rights under consumer law.

Sims said some large companies "seek to deceive their customers" about what they are entitled to under the law.

“This is why we take on so many high profile cases, to act as a deterrent to others by showing that those who seek to mislead or mistreat their customers will be held to account," he said.

Broadband speed advertising will also continue to be a focus for the ACCC, which launched an inquiry into the marketing of broadband speeds in July last year.

The review was prompted by a 48 percent jump in complaints about slow speeds to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

"Consumers are calling for standardised information to help them make informed comparisons between the different speeds available on the market," Sims said today.

Last month the ACCC published six principles aimed at ensuring speed claims "aren't misleading under the Australian Consumer Law".

It is due to launch a full guide to advertising broadband speeds in the coming months, and remains in discussions with the government about a monitoring and reporting program for fixed broadband performance.

Sims said the ACCC investigates around 500 potential breaches of the Competition and Consumer Act, and takes about 30 cases to court, each year.

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