Ep 23 of 2011
This week was the week for users of mobile telecommunications products. It was the week the World Health Organisation panel recommended people limit their usage of mobile phones after it found a possible link with two types of cancer. As well, ACMA looks to tight its grip on dodgy and misleading offering from Australian telcos. It appears the industry's days of total self-regulation of customer service, without the threat of penalties for breaches, are numbered.
After years of poor customer service and complaints statistics going from bad to worse it appears that the telecommunications sector is about to be brought into line. The Australian Communications and Media Authority is preparing to release a 12-month review of customer care.
Telcos will be forbidden from using advertising terms such as "cap" and be forced to implement supermarket-style unit pricing and new measures to prevent bill shock under strict new regulations recommended by the communications regulator.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) released the draft report of its Reconnecting the Customer inquiry, which has been described as a "well researched expose" of the poor state of customer service and complaints handling among telcos. As if we didn’t need reminding.
The inquiry was sparked by a continued surge in complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), which reached 210,000 last year, and also takes first prize for the most complaints in any industry sector in Australia – ahead of banking.
ACMA chairman Chris Chapman (below) said this complaint level was just the "tip of the iceberg" as research has shown that only a fraction of consumers even know about the TIO and its complaints-handling process.
Telcos will be given time to implement ACMA's recommendations in their own self-regulatory industry codes but if they do not do so in a satisfactory way ACMA said it would force them to do so with new regulations.
One of the key ACMA recommendations is a ban on the misleading use of terms such as "cap" and "unlimited", which often fool consumers as in most cases the "cap" represents a minimum rather than maximum spend. Claims of broadband speeds would also need to be substantiated.
This will be supplemented by new "unit pricing" rules so consumers will easily be able to tell from advertisements what is included in their plan and what costs extra in an effort to cut through the "confusopoly" that passes for marketing in the telco sector.
This week on
Tech Talk Radio
Mobile phones and telecommunications companies are in the spotlight yet again, and ACMA gets out its big stick to try and reign in the angry beast. We get to see Windows 8 for the first time, the US says Cyber attacks are an act of war, PlayStation 4 is on its way, and Adam puts his two cents worth in on the telecommunications reforms.
This week's App of the Week:
Apple / Android: Pulse by Alphonso Labs
Meet Pulse. A beautiful application that makes reading news fun and engaging.Pulse is a beautiful app that takes your favorite websites and transforms them into a colorful and interactive mosaic. Tap on an article to see a clean and elegant view of the news story. Save stories for reading later across all platforms or sync them with Instapaper, Read it Later and Evernote. Sharing a story via Facebook, Twitter and email is as easy as two taps.
Available for iPhone and Android
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