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Monday, 30 August 1993
Page: 600

(Question No. 337)


Senator Panizza asked the Minister representing the Minister for Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 28 May 1993:

  (1) What redress does a constituent, living in Derby, Western Australia, have, and against whom, when he believes he has been overcharged by Telecom for calls which, although made to engaged numbers, have recorded a charge for which he has subsequently been billed.

  (2) Does the Federal Consumer Affairs Bureau have past experience of complaints from Telecom customers who believe they have been incorrectly charged for dialling and reaching an already engaged number.


Senator Bolkus —The Minister for Consumer Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) The Department of Transport and Communications advises that there are a number of possible avenues of redress available to people who believe they have been overcharged by Telecom, including:

  Telecom's internal disputes resolution mechanism;

  the Australian Telecommunications Authority (AUSTEL);

  the Commonwealth Ombudsman (until the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman commences operation);

  the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (from the date of commencement of operation); and

  normal mechanisms of legal redress (e.g. Small Claims Court).

  (2) I am advised that the Federal Bureau of Consumer Affairs, which is not primarily a complaint handling body, is aware of some allegations by Telecom customers of incorrect bills, including being charged for calls made to engaged numbers. Further, I am advised that the volume of such allegations over recent years about Telecom accounts is extremely low.