New help for consumers with mobile and telecommunications purchases

Consumers shopping for a new mobile plan or other telecommunications product will have access to helpful new information from tomorrow (1 March).
“Critical Information Summaries” (CIS) will provide shoppers with two pages of essential information about a product or service. This must include features, pricing, inclusions, exclusions and other key information such as access to dispute resolution procedures and warnings about international roaming costs.
For the first time consumers will be able to compare plans like for like, and choose the most suitable offer before entering into a contract. The CIS must be made available for free at point of sale or on the service provider’s website.
‘The Australian Communications and Media Authority expects a similarly high level of industry compliance with the CIS requirements as it has seen with the new advertising rules in the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code,’ said ACMA Deputy Chairman, Richard Bean.
‘Industry has fundamentally changed the way it advertises telecommunications products and moved away from representations that confuse consumers,’ he added. ‘For example, we asked it to scrap the use of the word “cap” as well as stopping inaccurate use of terms such as “free” and “unlimited”. The CIS is the next step in improving the telco customer experience.’
The ACMA will closely monitor industry’s compliance with the new requirement.
The CIS is another key response by the telecommunications industry to the ACMA’s Reconnecting the Customer public inquiry, which found many consumers did not have sufficient understanding of their telecommunications product before entering into a contract.
March 1 also sees the introduction of a new code requirement that bills for included value plans provide total charges for the last three billing periods. This will allow consumers to check if they are consistently exceeding their allowances and consider changing their plan.
A sample of what to expect in a Critical Information Summary can be seen critical information summary mock-up.