Access to telecommunications services is important to everyone. There are a range of measures supporting access to reasonably priced services as well as ways you can avoid unexpected high charges.
Access for Everyone—Telstra's package for low-income consumers
Telstra's Access for Everyone was developed for anyone on a low income, including holders of the Pensioner Concession Card and other cards.
This package is a requirement of Telstra's licensing conditions. It was endorsed by low-income consumer advocacy groups through the Low-income Measures Assessment Committee (LIMAC). Representatives on the Committee include the Australian Council of Social Services, the Smith Family, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, the Salvation Army, Jobs Australia, Homelessness Australia, Anglicare Australia and the Council on the Ageing. The package is updated by Telstra and reviewed by LIMAC on a regular basis.
Unexpectedly high bills
Unexpectedly high bills, also known as 'bill shock', come with using more services, including data and calls, than are included in a phone plan. Simple ways to avoid bill shock include:
- Know your allowances or 'quota' for voice and data services.
- Be aware of the data consumption associated with web browsing, social networking, gaming, music downloads.
- Use your service provider's online usage meter to monitor downloads.
- Factor in the extra charges when limits are exceeded.
- Understand the advertising terms of capped, free and unlimited.
- Consider using pre-paid plans.
International mobile roaming
International mobile roaming lets people use a mobile device, such as a phone or tablet, when travelling overseas without having to buy a local service. These services can be expensive. Mobile phone carriers must:
- send SMS warnings of high mobile roaming charges to people when they arrive at their overseas destination
- send SMS notifications with pricing information for using roaming services
- provide timely and accurate advice to customers about how to stop international roaming
- provide spend-management tools, including usage notifications.
Find out more:
- ACMA International mobile roaming fact sheet
- Telecommunications International Mobile Roaming Industry Standard 2013
- Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
- Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association
Trans-Tasman mobile roaming
Trans-Tasman mobile roaming services let Australians to use their mobile device in New Zealand, and vice versa. These services have been expensive, but costs are coming down.
The draft Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (International Mobile Roaming) Bill proposes to let the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (the ACCC) work with the New Zealand Commerce Commission (the NZCC) on international mobile roaming services to:
- monitor the wholesale and retail prices and margins for these services
- publish an annual report on retail prices and margins as well as industry compliance with price-control arrangements
- impose price-control arrangements, e.g a price cap, on services between the two countries, where appropriate and subject to public review.
Exposure draft of the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment Bill 2014
Published 24th Jun 2015
Download PDF (582.1 KB) Download DOC (138.97 KB)
Explanatory Material for the International Mobile Roaming Bill
Published 24th Jun 2015
Download PDF (51.92 KB) Download DOC (28.04 KB)
Options-stage RIS for coordinated action on trans-Tasman Mobile Roaming services
Published 24th Jun 2015
Download PDF (677.61 KB) Download DOC (110.46 KB)
Consumer protectionThe Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) Code C628:2012 sets the rules about how phone companies must treat their customers, including:
- sales and advertising tactics, including pre-sales disclosure information, contracts, retail sales, and any penalties for the late payment of accounts
- letting customers see their account balances so they can better manage spending
- helping people resolve disputes with the phone company
- having a financial hardship policy to help manage their customer's individual circumstances
- providing expenditure and usage management tools so people can monitor their phone costs and data usage
- telling customers with post-paid services when they have reached 50, 85 and 100 per cent of their monthly SMS, voice and data allowance.
- Contact the phone company first and try to resolve your problem with them. If you aren't satisfied, ask to have the complaint escalated—this means a more senior person will look at it.
- If you still aren't satisfied, contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (the TIO) for a free and independent dispute resolution service.