news The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ordered mobile telco Vodafone, to fix its customer violations under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (TCP Code) — and threatened penalties if it doesn’t.
An investigation conducted by ACMA found that there was non-compliance in the areas of analysing and classifying of customer complaints according to the code, failure in providing customers information about network performance issues, and for implementing security systems that were not robust enough for customer privacy protection. ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said: “These directions are intended to make sure Vodafone remains focused on improving outcomes for its consumers by increasing the regulatory consequences of any further breach.”
Vodafone’s poor performance has been in the news for a while now. In Dec 2010, Australian firm Piper Alderman filed a class action suit against Vodafone for sub-par performance and poor customer service. In January this year, mobile telco VHA said that it was investigating an alleged breach in security of the Vodafone customer database. In January, Vodafone was also slammed with a 28 page report on its multiple failures by Adam Brimo—the creator of Vodafail—which was launched in Dec 2010 to publicize his issues with Vodafone.
ACMA recently conducted a public inquiry called ‘Reconnecting the Customer.’ This resulted in a compilation of a number of improvements for complaint handling and customer care for the industry. The orders to Vodafone tie in with those results. “Certainly, Vodafone has made positive changes over the course of this year but, from this point on, if either Vodafone company [there are two legal companies targeted by ACMA under the Vodafone umbrella] fails to comply with the TCP Code, the ACMA can approach the Federal Court seeking civil penalties of up to $250,000” said Chapman.
The violations in the directions to both the Vodafone companies include:
- Not providing timely information about network issues to its customers.
- Not advising customers on its limitations on network coverage.
- Inadequate processes for customer privacy protection.
- Inadequate processes for handling complaints as per the TCP code.
- Inadequate processes for analysing and classifying complaints as per the TCP Code.
In response to the ACMA’s orders, Vodafone yesterday stated that it had addressed the issues raised in the order. Nigel Dews, CEO of VHA said: “Since the issues emerged in late 2010 everyone at Vodafone has been committed to delivering a better network and service experience.” Dews also said that they were aware of the issues and had started working on them even before ACMA’s order.