Horsley's Comment

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is to be commended for its decision condemning Primus and One.Tel for their deceptive door-to-door sales techniques. The watchdog body hit each of the offenders with a $500,000 fine, to be applied to funding a public awareness campaign. Why are these anti-slamming convictions a good thing? Because the message is clear: there's no room in this industry for such practices, so be on your best behaviour or get out of the marketplace. This decision comes on top of a warning from the ACA last week recommending careful reading of mobile phone contracts before any purchase. The ramifications of these examples extend far beyond the specifics of the cases at hand, and should help to ensure fairer deals for all.

The recent ATUG round table also delivered worthwhile messages about the way we do business. Yes, we are often in competition with each other, but we are also often each others' customers, and as such we need to ensure that our relationships promote growth rather than fights and stand-offs. Specifics such as those suggested by Neil Tuckwell and others can help: in negotiations, make sure that management stands fully behind negotiators' positions, and also that all parties to negotiations are working from an equal base of knowledge.

It's all about securing deals that are timely and tolerable to all parties. What we most emphatically don't need are controversial statements such as those recently attributed to Telstra's Deena Shiff, to the effect that if the competition commission does not like Telstra's access pricing policies, Telstra may stop investing in Australia. Why the federal government, as the company's majority shareholder, tolerates such irresponsible implied threats remains a mystery.

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