ACMA Wants Your Telco Horror Stories

ACMA Wants Your Telco Horror Stories

Ringing your phone company to try and get a problem fixed is often about as productive as trying to mop up the Pacific Ocean with a single serviette. The Australian Communications and Media Authority recognises that’s an issue, and is seeking public submissions on what communications providers get wrong as part of a broader inquiry into the issue of customer service.

We noted ACMA’s interest in this area back in April, so it’s taken a while for the public inquiry part of its investigations to begin. The terms of reference note that ACMA can only assist with “systemic” problems — in other words, individual horror stories won’t necessarily be of much use (and it can’t help resolve existing problems).

However, if you’ve repeatedly encountered the same problems, or represent a part of the community that frequently has issues, it’s worth contributing. Submissions can be made by mail or email, and are due by September 10. Hit the link for further details.



  • I’m not sure if it’s in the scope of this inquiry, but might I suggest complaining about 3’s data roaming setup?

    They offer very generous data packs which is great, but when you roam on to Telstra you get charged excess, which is fine in itself, except…

    There is no way of disallowing data roaming when on Telstra. Using iPhone anyway (don’t have a phone on another system using 3 at the moment). So if you have say, push email running you can rack up some interesting data charges without even knowing. It seems like it would be a relatively simple change in their network setup to flag “telstra” as roaming so the phone’s system can distinguish, and stop using data… but I suspect they don’t because it probably makes them some decent money.

  • Systemically, telcos all have very complex plans linked to increasingly complex devices and very little transparency. So much for “communication”! What they haven’t done is what the financial sector now provides with the “comparison rate”. That is, there are no benchmarks for a customer to easily compare the value they get from their provider within the terms of their contract. Telcos should be proactive about communicating with customers.

    Yes, this would be difficult to provide considering telephone/mobile/data usage is highly variable by customer. What they can do, however, is provide more transparency. For example, I have no accurate idea of how much data I am chewing through on Optus 3G other than a 3rd party monitoring app I have installed. Is it so hard for Optus to provide a mobile portal and/or app API for me to have this information streamed to my phone?

    As a customer I then get no nasty surprises, and I don’t even have to initiate that call to the dreaded call centre.

  • “Systemically, telcos all have very complex plans linked to increasingly complex devices and very little transparency.”
    Im with Ada,m. Who can look at any telco plan without being confused by about line three of the description of the package? It is all magic and mirrors designed to confuse the client. For example, you pay so much a month but you supposedly get calls to the value of something else. What the hell is that all about? Why don’t they say how much per minute the call is? It is hopeless to try to compare plans unless one has several hours to spare and considerable expertise in excel.

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