The Australian Communications and Media Authority has released an updated industry code aimed at limiting consumer “bill shock.”
The code which, applies to credit management practices, aims to provide improved protection for consumers vulnerable to financial hardship arising from telecommunications debt.
Specifically, financial hardship programs designed to assist customers experiencing difficulties with paying their bills, will be introduced.
Providers must also offer tools such as call barring, caps on expenditure, download limits and pre-paid services to help customers manage their spending.
“It contains new safeguards designed to help consumers, especially young people, avoid unexpected high bills,” acting ACMA chair, Lyn Maddock, said in a statement.
According to the ACMA, the code, ACIF C541: Credit Management Industry Code, was developed by consumer and industry representatives and facilitated by the Australian Communications Industry Forum.
Carriers and carriage service providers will have six months to implement improved practices under the new code. The ACMA said it had the ability to issue directions to individual carriers and carriage service providers to comply with the code.
Consumers would also be could also complain to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman around any credit management issues they had with their service provider.
ICT Minister, Helen Coonan, said in a statement that the new code was a win for the Federal Government's self-regulatory regime for the telecommunications industry.
"It represents the culmination of a process in which industry and consumer representatives worked together to protect consumers from unexpected high phone bills," she said.
The ACMA said the update was the third iteration of the credit management code, which was aimed to foster good industry practice rather than relying on remedial measures enforced through legislation.
ACMA to protect mobile phone users
By Staff Writers on Apr 21, 2006 9:59AM