Telecommunications customers to get concise summaries of terms and conditions
The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) has made a Determination requiring telecommunications service providers to provide customers with concise summaries of the terms and conditions applying to their service. These summaries are expected to be clear and simple, and readily accessible to customers.
Dr Bob Horton, Acting Chairman of the ACA said, "By being provided with concise, up-to-date summaries of terms and conditions, written in plain language, customers should be better acquainted with their key rights and responsibilities for any service they subscribe to. This is a significant safeguard for customers and should help them to make the right choice of service provider."
The Determination applies to all telecommunications service providers who supply goods and services subject to the terms and conditions in 'standard forms of agreement' lodged with the ACA. It does not apply to situations where customers sign individual contracts with their provider.
"Currently, AAPT, Australink, C Optus, Digiplus, Primus, Telstra and Vodafone, and eight Internet service providers* make use of standard forms of agreement that set out the detailed terms and conditions of the relationship between the service provider and the customer. Until now, many customers have not been aware of the existence of standard forms of agreement, let alone read through the terms and conditions contained in them," said Dr Horton.
"Although they are available on demand from your provider, some standard forms of agreement are lengthy and detailed, and this discourages the average customer from accessing them. Simplicity is the key to customer confidence, satisfaction and success in a highly competitive market," he said.
The ACA Determination will ensure that service providers using standard forms of agreement:
Maintain up-to-date concise summaries of key terms and conditions in their standard forms of agreement; and Provide customers with warnings about changes the companies are about to make to the terms and conditions that customers might consider detrimental.
Summaries must be made available to all new customers from March 2000, and all existing customers must have a summary provided to them within the following 6 months. Then, at least every two years, service providers will again have to make the up-to-date summary available to all customers.
Copies of standard forms of agreement are, by law, available from your telecommunications service provider. A copy of the Determination can be found on the ACA's Website at www.aca.gov.au.
*Internet service providers using Standard Forms of Agreement:
Australia On Line
AOL Bertelsmann Online
Pilbara Systems Internet
Valylink Centre 3000