When buying telecommunication products and services, there is one very important document which is called the Critical Information Summary or CIS. Interestingly not a lot of businesses know that such a thing existed, let along using it wisely.
In this article we will go through CIS in detail and explain why it is such an important document.
What is a CIS?
A Critical Information Summary is a document that lists all the ‘critical information’ or ‘need-to-knows’ of a particular telecommunication product or service. It helps a business compare features and prices as well as setting the right expectations.
The requirement for CIS documents is stipulated in the Australia’s Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code and policed by The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Accordingly, every telecommunications provider must provide a CIS on their website for each product, service and plan.
A CIS should include the following:
- what is included in the product, service or plan, and what is limited or excluded
- the fees and charges for the product or service, even if it is a ‘free’ offer
- how long the minimum contract lasts and details on the early termination charges
- what happens when you go over the inclusions (i.e. additional charges, reduction in access speeds etc)
- what to do if you have a complaint
Note this rule excludes those products and services targeting enterprise clients.
Where to find your CIS?
You should always request a copy of your CIS before signing. Otherwise the easiest way is to simply search the term ‘Business Critical Information Summary’.
Don’t forget to add the word ‘business’, otherwise you may get CIS for consumer products instead.
Source: Google search conducted on 17 February 2021
Alternatively you can search within a particular telco’s website. Again make sure you are looking at the business CIS page.
What does a CIS look like?
Each telco produces their CIS documents in different flavours but no matter the presentation, all CIS documents should include all the required critical information.
Here is a snapshot of a CIS.
Source: https://www.telstra.com.au/help/critical-information-summaries/business/mobile/business-mobile-plans/business-mobile-plans accessed on 17 February 2021
It is really easy to compare different plans using CIS. The rest of this CIS talks about important points such as excess data charges, early terminations, roaming, billing, fair use policies and complaints, just to name a few. It is a very good baseline to keep track of your plan and gain clarity during a dispute.
Australia’s Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code – Category Archives: Critical Information Summar Link
Telstra – Critical Information Summary Link
Optus – Critical Information Summary Link
Vodafone – Critical Information Summary Link