The Australian Communications and Media Authority has issued formal warnings to 11 telcos for failing to notify customers that they do not provide priority assistance services, and for failing to name a telco that does.
The offending telcos 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 priority assistance,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.
“If they don’t offer priority assistance services, they must tell people who does.”
Priority assistance (PA) is a customer status available to anyone diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition who depends on a fixed-line home telephone service to be able to call for help at any time. The service offers the highest level of service available for telephone connection and fault repairs.
Telstra is the only Australian telco required to provide these services as part of its licence, although others can offer it voluntarily. Telstra itself came under fire from ACMA last year over priority assistance, following two incidents in 2017 that resulted in deaths.
“We are concerned about any failure to meet obligations that are targeted at helping people in vulnerable circumstances,” O’Loughlin said.
ACMA said the telcos have since committed to revise their training and scripts to ensure PA information is accurately communicated, following its investigations.
“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.”