Regulator slams Sure Telecom for "completely unacceptable" behaviour

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Regulator slams Sure Telecom for "completely unacceptable" behaviour

A telecommunications provider has been issued with a direction to comply by the Australian Communications and Media Authority due to "unauthorised customer transfers from other providers".

ACMA alleged that Sure Telecom, which is now under external administration, had violated 19 clauses of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code over multiple occasions in March.

"The behaviour of Sure Telecom is completely unacceptable," said ACMA chairman Chris Chapman. "The extent of non-compliance with some of the most important telecommunications consumer safeguards is very disturbing."

Twelve breaches involved not communicating its offers in "a comprehensible, clear and accurate manner, without exaggeration and without the omission of key information". Seven of the violations related to changes of telco without proper customer consent, while misrepresenting its "relationship with another provider".

The investigation was instigated by a rise in complaints about Sure Telcom to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

Sure Telecom reported to ACMA that the staff responsible for the questionable sales tactics and transfers have been "subsequently dismissed". CRN contacted Sure Telecom for further comment but had not received a response at the time of writing.

"Consumers should think carefully about a company’s compliance culture and history when shopping around and choosing a new provider," said Chapman.

A statement from ACMA said that the authority is now investigating if Sure Telecom customers were "properly transferred" to Telco Service Holdings and SoleNet. The watchdog said that all three companies are owned by the same holding entity, and that the sole director of Sure Telecom is also a director of the other two companies.

Telco Service Holdings, known as Sure Telcom until 28 January this year, had been in trouble with the authorities before.

CRN reported in July that Telco Service Holdings received a formal warning from ACMA for violating Do Not Call register rules. The authority stated that the company had also copped warnings for a September 2012 privacy breach and an April 2013 failure to publish a compliant critical information summary.

In April 2013, Telco Service Holdings failed to meet reporting requirements under the TCP Code, for which it later received a direction to comply.

ACMA said that while it cannot fine the telco, any company that breaches a direction to comply is subject to legal action in the Federal Court for a "pecuniary penalty".

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