ACMA issues warnings to 11 telcos over PA services

Wednesday, 08 May, 2019

ACMA issues warnings to 11 telcos over PA services

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has formally warned 11 telcos for failing to tell new customers they do not offer priority assistance (PA) services.

PA is a customer status available to anyone diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition that depends on a reliable fixed-line home telephone service to be able to call for help at any time.

It offers the highest level of service available for telephone connection and fault repairs. Telstra is the only telco required to provide these services as a condition of its licence; however, others may do so voluntarily.

The 11 telcos issued with warnings include Activ8me, Aussie Broadband, Dodo, Exetel, Foxtel, MyRepublic, Skymesh, Southern Phone, Spintel, TPG and V4 Telecom.

“Telcos need to give consumers the full picture before signing them up to a service. This includes disclosing whether they offer PA,” said ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin.

“If they don’t offer PA, they must tell people who does.”

The ACMA investigations found the telcos contravened the Telecommunications Act 1997 by either failing to inform customers they do not offer PA services, failing to name a telco that does or both.

“We are concerned about any failure to meet obligations that are targeted at helping people in vulnerable circumstances,” O’Loughlin said.

Following the ACMA investigations, the telcos have committed to revise their training and scripts to ensure PA information is accurately communicated.

“Telcos are on notice that PA obligations must be taken seriously,” O’Loughlin said.

“Further enforcement action may be taken if the issues reoccur, including directing the telcos to implement effective systems that ensure their PA obligations are being met or commencing civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court.”

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