ARE YOU BOUND BY THE CODE?

How do I know if my company is bound by the Code?

The revised Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code C628:2019 applies to all Carriers and Carriage Service Providers (CSPs or providers) that provide carriage services to Consumers (and this may include small businesses).

Even if you do not own infrastructure you may well be bound by the Code. Under the Telecommunications Act Internet Access Providers (IAPs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are also considered CSPs.

However, not all providers are bound by the TCP Code.

In order to be bound by the Code, your company has to fulfill two criteria:

  1. You must be providing one or more Carriage Services:

    Typical carriage services include (but are not limited to) xDSL services, wifi and dial-up services, mobile services, fixed line services, VoIP services, long distance calling, pre-paid phone cards including calling cards to overseas destinations, 1 300 and 1 800 numbers etc. This includes the resale of those services where a business does not own the infrastructure used to provide the service. Web hosting services are typically not considered carriage services.

    AND
  2. The service(s) must be provided to Consumers, defined in the Code as:

    (a) an individual who acquires or may acquire a Telecommunications Product for the primary purpose of personal or domestic use and not for resale [often also called residential customers]; or

    (b) a business or non-profit organisation which acquires or may acquire one or more Telecommunications Products which are not for resale and, at the time it enters into the Customer Contract, it:

    (i) does not have a genuine and reasonable opportunity to negotiate the terms of the Customer Contract; and

    (ii) has or will have an annual spend with the Supplier which is, or is estimated on reasonable grounds by the Supplier to be, no greater than $40,000, or, in the 5 months following Code commencement, an annual spend of $20,000.
    [This means that from 1 August 2019 – 31 December 2019, the annual spend is no more than $20,000. From 1 January 2020 the annual spend is no more than $40,000.]

Please note:

  • ‘Customer Contract’ in this context does not mean that a customer necessarily enters into an arrangement of a fixed duration, i.e. 6 months, 12 months etc. Customer contracts include services that are sold on the basis of pre-payment, on a month-to-month basis or services that can be cancelled without any notice.
  • A “Take it or leave it” offer does not grant a genuine opportunity to negotiate, i.e. the fact that a potential customer can walk away from the offer in itself does not constitute an opportunity to negotiate.
  • The terms of the customer contract are not limited to (but usually include) the price or duration of the contract but can relate to various other things such as payment arrangements, conditions, warranties etc. Most custom-built solutions are the result of negotiations. But note that you must provide a genuine opportunity to negotiate, i.e. allowing your customer to seek negotiations when it is clear from the outset that you are not in a position or willing to accommodate any potential change to the previously offered conditions, may not constitue a genuine opportunity to negotiate.

Importantly, the above means that if all your customers are small businesses/non-profit organisations and all are given the genuine opportunity to negotiate the terms of their contract, then your company is not bound by the Code and you are not required to lodge compliance documents with CommCom.

Please note that the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) will accept and, where deemed appropriate, investigate complaints against all providers irrespective of whether or not they are bound by the TCP Code.

If you are still unsure, please contact us.

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OVERVIEW AND SOFT COPY

Code Overview

The TCP Code C628:2019 contains a set of rules designed to protect the rights of consumers and to promote good customer service and fair outcomes for consumers. It clearly outlines the obligations of retail CSPs.
The Code consists of an Introductory Statement and 10 Chapters.

  • Chapters 1 to 3 contain general rules around the functioning of the Code, definitions and general rules which apply to each of the subsequent chapters.

  • Chapter 4 provides rules for consumer sales, service and contracts, i.e. it includes obligations around information provision, advertising, selling practices, contracting, dealing with customers with different needs and customer service.

  • Chapter 5 sets out the obligations relating to providing customers with bills and billing information.

  • Chapter 6 contains rules for the provision and management of credit assessments in connection with a telecommunications service, the denial and restriction of access to services and credit management tools such as spend alerts.

  • Chapter 7 sets out rules in relation to the creation and application of a financial hardship policy and obligations in relation to credit management during discussion and application of financial hardship arrangements.

  • Chapter 8 notes that Rules that apply to consumer complaints handling are set out in the ACMA’s Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints Handling) Industry Standard 2018. All complaints must be dealt with under this Standard.

  • Chapter 9 sets out the obligations for providers that relate to consumers changing to another service provider or to consumers being transferred as a result of sale of business or reorganisation.

  • Chapter 10 contains provisions around the implementation of the Code Compliance Framework. This includes the role of Communications Compliance as well as the compliance and monitoring arrangements put in place to enhance compliance, customer service and protection, transparency and self-regulation of the telecommunications industry.

The Code has been developed by Communications Alliance, the industry body for telecommunications in Australia.

In July 2019 the ACMA registered a revised version of the Code, containing a number of amendments to the previous version,

2019 TCP Code Summary of Amendments

Soft Copy

For further information on the Code or to download a copy of the Code, please visit: