Hardship changes loom
Telcos will soon be mandated to offer financial hardship assistance to all Australians struggling to pay their phone and internet bills.
A new Federal Government directive is being imposed, aimed at ensuring no customer is left disconnected due to financial difficulties.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has been instructed to enforce the new Industry Standard on Financial Hardship.
This standard is intended to keep consumers connected, but also mandates telcos implement robust training for staff and systems designed to proactively identify customers in financial distress.
Set to take effect on 29 March 2024, the regulations extend to mobile, internet, and voice services for both individuals and small businesses.
The initiative replaces existing financial hardship rules within the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code, granting the ACMA increased flexibility and oversight to ensure telcos are effectively aiding their customers.
“In 2024, staying connected is an essential part of everyday life. It's how Australians keep in touch with loved ones, run businesses, and engage with government,” said Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland.
“That’s why it is critical telcos do all they can to keep customers connected when they are experiencing difficulties paying their bills. This new industry standard will mean Australian consumers and small businesses are better supported by telcos when they need it most.
“These new rules are another example of the measured and targeted action taken by the Albanese Government to support Australians with cost-of-living pressures.
“The Government thanks the industry for working constructively with the ACMA to develop these new rules”.