A report published by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) this week highlights problems with sales practices of some telecommunication providers - and how they should fix them.
The TIO's role is to assist consumers and small businesses with unresolved complaints about their phone or internet service. An important part of the Ombudsman's operations is the TIO Scheme, which helps its members improve through various best-practice guidelines, resources and insights - and sometimes a rap over the knuckles if it's required.
As we've mentioned previously, joining the TIO Scheme isn't optional - all communications carriers and eligible carriage service providers are legally required to join and importantly, comply with the Scheme.
The latest insights provided by the TIO are the result of five investigations consisting of a combined total of almost 200 complaints. The major issues discovered probably won't come as a surprise.
- Advertising and point-of-sale information not always covering key terms
- Information published online about products and services can be difficult to find and understand
- Providers do not always responsibly promote or sell their products and services
- Consumers sometimes unknowingly sign up for products or services they do not need
"The Australian Consumer Law requires providers to be honest and frank in the representations they make about their products and services," says the TIO. "It prohibits misleading representations and requires products sold to be fit for purpose."
As part of its ongoing efforts to educate both consumers and providers, the TIO has published useful tips for both parties, which can be found in the full report here.
Among its advice for consumers is before signing up to a new phone or internet product or service, it's important to check for what's known as a Critical Information Summary. This should provide clear details including contract duration, costs of plans and penalties for exiting a contract early.
The TIO states:
"Consumers should not need to conduct an exhaustive search or review long or complex terms and conditions to find key information about what they will owe and what they are entitled to receive."
On a related note, if you're looking for Lightning Broadband's Critical Information Summaries, they can be found clearly labeled on our policies, terms and conditions page.