Carriers and carriage service providers will, by now, have made
a number of changes to their customer contracting arrangements to
comply with the Australian Consumer Law, as the unfair contract
provisions became effective during 2010. Those laws apply to
standard form customer contracts entered into on or after 1 July
2010 and to the terms of the then existing contracts that are
renewed or varied after 1 July 2010.
Carriage service providers are also well versed in complying
with the industry specific requirements of the Telecommunications
Consumer Protections Code C628: 2007
("Code"), an industry code published by
Communications Alliance. As that Code was registered with the
Australian Communications and Media Authority
("ACMA") under Section 117 of the
Telecommunications Act 1997
("Act"), ACMA may direct any carriage
service provider to whom that Code applies to comply with its
That Code is currently the subject of a significant review which
has been undertaken over the last 4 months. A new enhanced draft of
the Code ("New Code"), which is
currently the subject of a pre release review by ACMA, will shortly
be released for public comment. It is anticipated that the New Code
will include a number of significant new obligations on carriage
service providers, including in relation to offering spend
management tools and Code compliance measures, to further enhance
the industry's self regulated customer service initiatives.
Truman Hoyle has been engaged by Communications Alliance to provide
drafting services in relation to the New Code.
At the same time as the New Code has been prepared, ACMA has
been undertaking a public enquiry into customer service issues in
the telecommunications industry. It is anticipated that the outcome
of that public enquiry may dovetail with ACMA's decision as to
whether it will register the proposed New Code pursuant to the Act.
ACMA is also undertaking a number of other compliance review
measures in relation to obligations under the existing Code.
Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Discussion Paper
Last week the Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy,
issued a discussion paper examining the potential reform of the
Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Scheme ("TIO
Scheme"). The discussion paper poses a number of
questions regarding the structure, operation and governance of the
Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
One of the responsibilities of the TIO is to act as arbiter of
last resort for certain telecommunications consumer complaints.
Carriage service providers are required to be members of the TIO
Scheme, with the level of funding required to be paid by each
carriage service provider being determined, in part, by the number
of complaints the TIO deals with in relation to that carriage
This means that carriage service providers need to be vigilant
in ensuring that they can comply with a number of new consumer
protection measures which will be introduced during the course of
2011. This includes the New Code, which will impact on the manner
in which they interact with the public generally.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The Sportscraft refunds and returns policy limitations went beyond consumer's rights under the Australian Consumer Law.
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