The Australian Communications and Media Authority has directed mobile service provider Lycamobile Pty Ltd to comply with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (the TCP Code) following a complaints-handling investigation.
The investigation found Lycamobile had failed to keep any records of due response dates for its complaints, and in some limited circumstances had not advised customers of delays in dealing with their complaints or kept records of proposed resolutions.
‘The ACMA has seen significant improvements in complaints-handling practices in the telecommunications industry since the Reconnecting The Customer (RTC) inquiry in 2011,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.
‘However, we will not fail to act where a provider’s standards do not meet the requirements of the industry code. Good record keeping practices are essential to for providers to track the progress of complaints received and resolutions proposed—both essential for maintaining a good customer experience and relationship.’
Lycamobile has undertaken to review its complaints-handling record-keeping to ensure it meets the requirements of the TCP Code.
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Media release 8/2016 - 16 February
The TCP Code
The TCP Code was registered on 1 September 2012, and included a number of obligations on telco providers to give greater protections to customers from confusing mobile plans, bill shock and poor complaint handling practices.
A refreshed TCP Code was registered on 3 December 2015. The new code maintains most of the complaint handling rules, including those that are the subject of the Lycamobile investigation.
The TCP Code delivered on the key recommendations of the ACMA’s RTC report which proposed changes to make buying and using a mobile phone, or internet service, much simpler. Amongst these changes was the inclusion of new rules setting out clear timeframes for resolving complaints, which have had a positive impact for many consumers.
Clause 8.2.1(a) of the TCP Code 2012 requires providers to take certain steps to ensure complaints are managed with fairness, courtesy, objectivity and efficiency, including the monitoring of delays in complaint resolution and advice to customers.
Clause 8.5.1(a) of the TCP Code 2012 (now clause 8.4.1(a) of the TCP Code 2015) requires providers to keep complaint records, including the steps taken to address a complaint and the resolution (if any).
In August 2015, the ACMA identified a rise in Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) complaints about Lycamobile including an increase in complaints-handling issues over two consecutive quarters to June 2015.
The investigation found Lycamobile did not keep any records of due dates for a proposed resolution to its complainants, making it difficult to ensure that it met the timeframes set out in the TCP Code (two working days for urgent complaints, 15 working days for non-urgent complaints). In two instances, Lycamobile did not meet these timeframes for providing a resolution. On four occasions, Lycamobile did not record the reasons for the proposed resolution offered to the customer.
Lycamobile had previously been the subject of two ACMA enforcement actions. In 2013 an enforceable undertaking was accepted to improve the accuracy of its customer records provided to the Integrated Public Numbering Database. In 2014 it was formally warned for breaching the billing accuracy rules of the TCP Code.