It’s On: ACCC vs Entire Telecommunications Industry

By Patrick Avenell

The ACCC has once again taken aim at its favourite target, the telecommunications industry, with the consumer advocate saying that court action is imminent if standards are not raised.

"Problems such as misleading advertising, unfair contracts and deceptive mobile phone competitions have been allowed to proliferate by service providers, publishers and carriers, who have turned a blind eye while taking a slice of the profits,” said ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel.

"It is no longer acceptable for carriers to wash their hands of responsibility as operators use their networks to entrap phone company customers with unwanted, expensive and difficult to unwind subscription services."

Over the past three months, the ACCC has repeatedly slammed telecommunications companies, especially mobile premium service providers, for preying on naive consumers with hidden fees, small print and misleading advertising. This morning, the watchdog widened the scope of its fury, attacking the entire industry as a whole.

“If all carriers do not exhibit a responsible attitude to closing down rogue operators, they must expect the ACCC to pursue remedies available to it under the Trade Practices Act.

"Consumer protection issues in telecommunications consistently ranked number one as the sector’s most complained about to the ACCC Infocentre, with more than 4,000 complaints a year."

Samuel was addressing the Australian Telecommunications Users Group, a lobby group established in 1991 to represent the users of telecommunications products and services. His stinging rebuke, which included the memorable line: “The ACCC is drawing a line in the sand — we’re saying to the poor performers, and there are many of them, mend your ways," was well-received.

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