Choosing and comparing mobile, telephone or broadband contracts will become easier for consumers with the introduction of disclosure rules.
Starting on Friday all telcos must provide free a two-page ''critical information summary'' to shoppers that clearly states the monthly charges and value of any contract.
For mobile contracts, this includes the minimum length and cost of the contract, any early-exit fees, the cost per call and of text, and any services that are not included in the monthly fee, such as video and international calls. Any telco that does not provide a summary could face a $250,000 fine.
This marks the second phase of new consumer-friendly rules introduced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, following an 18-month investigation into why consumer complaints against telcos were so high.
The authority found consumers were uninformed about contracts or were paying too much because it was too difficult to compare costs.
''We asked [industry] to scrap the use of the word 'cap' as well as stopping inaccurate use of terms such as 'free' and 'unlimited'. The [summary] is the next step in improving the telco customer experience,'' the authority's deputy chairman, Richard Bean, said.
And for the first time consumers would be able to compare call costs between contracts and carriers as the summaries will state the minimum cost of a two-minute call.
A spokeswoman for the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network said the summaries could have the same impact as unit pricing in supermarkets.
''People do not have great awareness of what it costs to make a call or send an SMS because of the way our plans are structured,'' she said.
Consumers can also expect to see new warnings about global roaming fees and information on how to set up usage alerts and links to complaint lines. The next phase, in September, forces large telcos to alert customers when they reach 50 per cent, 80 per cent and 100 per cent of monthly usage limits.
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