20 April 2010
Reconnecting the customer: formal inquiry into telecommunications customer service
The Australian Communications and Media Authority will conduct a formal inquiry into customer service and complaints handling in the telecommunications industry following the on-going high volume of complaints to the industry ombudsman.
Announcing the inquiry today, ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman said, ‘Many would share the ACMA’s concern about whether the current arrangements which underpin telecommunications consumer protection are really effective in dealing with the issues that concern consumers most.
‘The trend-line growth and sheer quantum of complaints about complaint handling and customer service —up to 900 every working day—reflects poorly on the entire industry. Whether this is evidence of a failing regulatory system or just a perception of that failure, I now believe this issue has to be confronted directly and urgently otherwise we will be talking about these same issues for years to come.
‘A vital part of this inquiry will be determining how consumer expectations of customer service might be satisfied in the NBN-delivered broadband world.’ Mr Chapman said.
‘As part of the inquiry, I will personally brief CEO’s of the larger service providers (representing 90 per cent of the TIO complaints) and ask for their support. As the learnings emerge from the inquiry, I will seek their collective agreement on enforceable strategies for lowering the number of complaints to the industry ombudsman about complaint handing.’
Mr Chapman also foreshadowed other regulators with roles in the telecommunications sector joining the ACMA in a regulatory forum.
‘As regulators, we need to turn the mirror on our structures and roles. I do not believe the current regulatory ‘alphabet soup’ of ACMAs, TIOs, ACCCs, DBCDEs, CAs and TISSCs (along with the state Offices of Fair Trading) is leading to the best solution for some of the bigger problems. In the short-term, I will be seeking to work with my colleagues at the ACCC and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and with consumer groups, led by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, to identify emerging issues in telecommunications and develop appropriate regulatory responses. This is best done in collaboration.’
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: Donald Robertson, Media Manager, on (02) 9334 7980, 0418 86 1766 or email@example.com
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The ACMA is Australia’s regulator for broadcasting, the internet, radiocommunications and telecommunications. The ACMA’s strategic intent is to make communications and media work in Australia’s public interest. For more information: www.acma.gov.au/reconnect.