CHOICE membership

Telecommunications Customer Service Guarantee


#1

I don’t know if many are worried about it but every NBN provider’s spiel that I have read has advised that you have to sign away your “Customer Service Guarantee” (CSG) rights when you accept a contract with them. I may have missed some that don’t require this but it must be rare.

Now that the NBN will be the way most/many will now connect to internet/telephone in their homes and businesses, the CSG rights seem to still be very important to have eg think of a business losing internet for a day, week, month and the effect that would have on them. Just because a service for telephony will be via VOIP does that make it any less important to be covered by the rights that CSG confers.

I wonder if Choice could weigh in on this and see what is in fact happening and perhaps use their lobbying and people power to get the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to amend the current CSG to cover this issue if warranted.

I wonder if any others have had this issue yet ie having to waive CSG when obtaining the NBN?


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#2

completely agree @grahroll, particularly when with the rollout of the NBN consumers are being ‘forced’ off the copper wires where the [quote=“grahroll, post:1, topic:13850”]
“Customer Service Guarantee” (CSG) rights
[/quote]

are mandatory. Consumers have no choice, as after 18 or so months the traditional services are terminated. Are their legal rights being forcibly removed?


#3

Doesn’t make sense to me either - excellent question ! erosion of rights is and should always be an issue we all pay attention to.

Interestingly, I know personally with a family member who has a button pendant for emergencies they wear around their neck that talks to a base in the house that calls home if pressed. The organisation who runs it recently changed out all the bases from ‘landline’ (it just ‘made a call’ so in theory would have worked on VoIP) to cellular. When asked why cellular, the reason was NBN, and when asked why not use VoIP (I knew the likely reason) the answer was “are you kidding?” :slight_smile: no I wasn’t kidding, I just wanted to confirm what I was fairly sure their reasons were.


#4

It makes one wonder if this was part of the coalitions’ game plan, protecting vested interests to not provide services with their customers having no recourse or compensation… quack?


#5

I’ve had this experience recently too @grahroll. I’ll raise it with my colleagues in investigations.


#6

Today I contacted TPG Sales via a phone call and spoke to Cherie (Extension 6425) to arrange an NBN service (XXL Bundle).

I asked what my waiver of the CSG meant and she said it only affected the connection of the NBN, which could take between 2 and 30 days thus the waiver. I again asked if it affected any other part of my rights and she again advised that it was only the Connection part of my rights.

I then read to her the relevant section of the Critical Information Summary which is
"CSG Waiver:
The standard Monthly Charge and Setup pricing stated in the
Information about Pricing section are based on new customers agreeing to
waive the Customer Service Guarantee (CSG). ". To which she replied that it was only about the connection timeframe.

I have now received my first couple of emails one of which includes the “CSG waiver.pdf” copied here for your perusal:

"TPG Internet Pty Ltd ABN 15 068 383 737
65 Waterloo Road, North Ryde NSW 2113
Tel: 13 14 23 Fax: 02 9850 0813
Email: customer_service@tpg.com.au
Web site: www.tpg.com.au

We are sending you this document to confirm that you have agreed to the following:

Customer Service Guarantee Waiver
You wish to acquire a TPG Voice plan in respect of which TPG Internet Pty Ltd (TPG) requires you to
waive certain rights and protections provided under the Telecommunications (Customer Service Guarantee) Standard (the “CSG”).

The CSG is a guarantee that is prescribed under the Telecommunications Act 1997 and gives consumers certain rights in connection with standard telephone services. These rights include:

a. The right to be provided with information about the CSG and the performance standards applicable under it;

b. The right to receive compensation if a standard telephone service is not connected within a specified timeframe;

c. The right to receive compensation if a fault or service difficulty exists on a standard telephone service and is not rectified within a specified timeframe;

d. The right to receive compensation if TPG misses an appointment with a customer with whom TPG
has made an appointment in connection with the standard telephone service.

The specified timeframes and the amounts of compensation vary based on the customer location, the nature of the infrastructure available at the customer site and the length of time during which default has occurred.

As an example of the range of compensation, compensation for an unrepaired fault ranges from $14.52 to $48.40 per day and compensation for a missed appointment ranges from $14.52.
Full detail of the compensation can be found with a search of the ACMA website:
http://www.acma.gov.au

TPG Voice plans, where the CSG is waived are low priced. TPG believes that there is therefore
a significant benefit available to you if you waive the CSG. The consequences of agreeing to waive these rights are that you are not entitled to receive this compensation.

You are under no obligation to consent to the waiver. You should have made your own assessment
as to whether the non-CSG plans represent sufficient value for you to waive the rights given to you
under the CSG.

Your acceptance of this proposed waiver of your rights & protections under the CSG will take
effect on the date you agreed to this waiver (either by submitting the form online by clicking “Next” or by agreeing orally if you applied on the phone) unless, within 5 working days, you withdraw your waiver and communicate that withdrawal to TPG. If you do withdraw your waiver, TPG will not be able to supply the TPG Voice service to you.

This email has been sent confirming you have agreed to waive your rights and protections under the CSG and are not able to make a claim against TPG for compensation under the CSG in connection with the TPG Voice service that you have acquired.

Waiver
I, Graham XXXXXXXXXX, understand the protections & rights under the Customer Service Guarantee and agree to waive wholly those protections & rights as they apply to the NBN FTTN Broadband XXL Bundle Superfast supplied to me by TPG at Lot XXX X XXXXXXXX XX XXXXXXXXXX XXXXXX XXX XXXX ."

Nowhere in this document or waiver does it say it is only in regards to my connection but it is rather referring to my entire Voice service including any faults that arise. So what are TPG telling their agents in their training or is this what they want them to say that the waiver only extends to the connection?

It again reflects the poor state of the CSG that it has not moved to accommodate the NBN where nearly all Voice services will be VOIP and thus render the CSG meaningless and toothless. This needs to be addressed urgently.


#7

My cynical side thinks this government and perhaps the opposition would prefer not to do anything to incur the ire of the telcos since they have been forced into becoming NBN resellers, indentured servants, or whatever one wishes to call their uncomfortable relationship. Government’s top goal would be quietly letting the CSG fade into oblivion to assure top profits roll and there is no more of that particular pesky “red tape” that might cast any shadow on the cost effective(?) world class (?) NBN as it has been implemented.


#8

Signing away of these rights should be illegal forthwith.
When is a guarantee not a guarantee ?
Imagine if I sold you a vehicle that by law was necessary to guarantee proof of ownership on my behalf however I made you waver this right. Where would that leave you ?
You either have rights or you don’t, it’s black & white, no room for grey here.


#9

@Grahroll This is not good at all. Makes little sense except that we could well be losers and do not deserve it.
So yes I think that it needs to be ironed out and urgently.

Good on you for raising the matter publicly here so it can be addressed.
I am told by Telstra will be connected 23rd June 17.

So if Choice can sort it out via people power I will sign on as usual because it makes sense to use the only thing we have and that is our power in numbers because of course that is what drives today’s politics - re-election rather than good governance and common sense.


#10

Yes, @grahroll, I noticed exactly the same point
and I also noted that I wasn’t receiving any tangible benefit
in lieu of foregoing my CSG rights.

I had previously accepted the fact when renting an extra netphone,
but I consider this a dealbreaker when it concerns your traditional home phone number
and line rental.


#11

All providers have a choice to offer consumers the Customer Service Guarantee (CSG), except Telstra who is forced to provide it as the ‘Universal Service Provider’. In the past more providers offered it, but I’ve also noticed a decline since the NBN begun rolling out. Unfortunately this is how the Government designed the legislation.

The CSG requires compensation to be paid to you if your telco takes too long to repair or install your standard telephone service. Most telcos seek waivers from complying, especially over their VOIP telephony services. They claim these services are harder to guarantee.

It’s important to note the CSG is different from the general consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). You’ll still have ACL rights against your telco even if you waive rights under the CSG.

It’s worth contacting the telco consumer representative the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network if you’re concerned about the lack of protection under the CSG, or want to find out more about your rights on the NBN.


#12

Hi @XavierOHalloran

TPG didn’t say the waiver was because it was harder to guarantee but because their [quote=“grahroll, post:6, topic:13850”]
TPG Voice plans, where the CSG is waived are low priced. TPG believes that there is therefore
a significant benefit available to you if you waive the CSG.
[/quote]

This, in fact, is what most VOIP plans are like cost wise eg Skype, Engin, Optus, Club Telco, to name just a few, but yet the CSG has not advanced in it’s coverage of the NBN to include this quickly or effectively enough. No one who uses VOIP because they now are being required to ditch the old style telephone service due to the NBN is being safely covered by an outmoded CSG.

In the old system if you chose VOIP over a standard telephone service I understand the provider asking a person/company to waive their rights. But in light of the NBN almost completely negating a “standard telephone service” due to the old system being shut down in an area after 18 mths and that no new “standard telephone services” can be made in an area where NBN is active this weasling out on the CSG by providers is somewhat on the nose.


#13

Sorry, didn’t see Xavier’s post.


#14

The CSG shouldn’t apply to VoIP services as the CSG was intended for the physical phone line that delivered your phone service and thus indirectly covered your ADSL connection if the phone line went down.

This was why it wasn’t a good idea to choose a naked ADSL connection as without a “phone line” there was no CSG so a problem with the line could take weeks to fix and with no dial tone on the line technicians could reuse your line for someone else resulting in down time.

Where a new version of the CSG should apply is the NBN connection as this has replaced the physical phone line. But this will never happen with the NBN as the current setup that we have is a mixmash of outdated technology, 30+ year old coax and copper and extended outages are common.

What we had in the past is a rock solid telephone network that worked throughout disasters, power outages, floods and was designed so even if the exchange was cut off you could still call in your local area. If you had battery backup or a generator at home you could keep your ADSL connection online as well.

The NBN has changed all that, the lucky few that had fibre to their premises (FTTP) connected had a battery backup option, the fibre was connected to the exchange and they had an easy to use phone outlet but for the rest of the country it’s a network that shuts down as soon as there is a loss of power to the equipment located on poles or cabinets on the streets even if your house still has power. For those with FTTN if a car takes out the cabinet located on footpaths it will take weeks to replace.

In an emergency you might think the mobile network will keep going but these have a finite battery life and most towers will be lucky to stay running for a few hours.

So we can forget all about the CSG and a reliable internet and phone connection and need to get used to extended outages. The future of reliable communications in Australia is UHF radios or satellite phones.


#15

Hi @grahroll,

The legislation requires that the telcos explain what consumers get in exchange for waiving their CSG rights. TPG, like many claim they can offer you a cheaper service, but as you rightly point out you don’t have much choice if you want to maintain your CSG rights over the NBN (although there is always Telstra and I believe Optus is offering CSG as well).

The bottom line is I agree, telecommunications is an essential service and we need clear protections in place ensure timely repairs and installations. Although there is now real competition at the retail end, the underlying wholesale network (nbn) is still largely a monopoly and we know big monopolies don’t deliver for consumers without strong consumer protections in place.


#16

What are the odds with the NBN being a government monopoly that is also a partisan plaything for those responsible and irresponsible?


#17

The problem is in the majority of cases (unless you are lucky enough to get FTTP), the NBN replies on your domestic power supply to work. While the CSG is important, NBN resellers logically can not be held responsible for the performance of your electricity suppler (or re-seller) so we are in the middle of the rock and the hard place.

Two observations on this - your mobile is now a more reliable telecommunications device, and the original ALP NBN rollout had most of Australia connected to FTTP.


#18

I wonder if the reason for the waiving of the CSG (Customer Service Guarantee) is due to all the problems they have been experiencing with the roll out of the NBN. I am aware of a few people who have had a lot of problems with the NBN since they switched over to the NBN. When you look at the wording for the NBN plans you will notice that the speed is up to xxx so there is no guarantee you will reach that speed. Why sign up for the top NBN plan when you could end up only getting the speed of the slowest plan. With no CSG there is no obligation on the telco to fix the problem if they can or want to. Consumers hung out to dry.


#19

#20

Yes and no. Telstra has been known to get users to sign away their CSG/USG/USO rights. One common example is when Telstra has decided not to provide a physical land line, usually because the premises are remote. They offer what’s known as NextGen Wirless Loop (NGWL - a wireless substitute that can provide adequate voice services, most of the time), but the customer must sign away their rights.

The USO relates only to standard voice services and payphones. The legislation pre-dates the Internet, so digital services are not included. Nor are mobiles.

The Productivity Commission recently completed an inquiry into the USO, which raised a few hackles. The submission of the Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia Facebook Group is worth a read. If Choice is going to get involved, then there’s probably much of interest in other submissions, as well.