Telco complaint handling shows improvement | ACMA

Telco complaint handling shows improvement

Media release 56/2013 - 29 July

Australian Communications and Media Authority investigations have confirmed that Telstra (Word | PDF), Optus (Word | PDF) and Vodafone (Word | PDF), are demonstrating a high level of compliance with the requirement to deliver an agreed resolution to a customer complaint within ten working days. This is a key provision of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code 2012 (TCP Code).

The ACMA began three investigations in February 2013 following the registration of the TCP Code, which built heavily on the Reconnecting the Customer (RTC) public inquiry. The RTC had identified ‘failure to action undertakings’ when responding to complaints as a major concern for consumers and a key driver of dissatisfaction.

The ACMA examined data from each provider, as well as their policies and procedures. The investigations found each provider has appropriate policies and procedures in place to comply with the relevant complaints-handing provision of the TCP Code.

‘The ACMA is pleased that the investigations indicate that the top three providers are delivering agreed resolutions to customer complaints in the timeframes required by the TCP Code,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

‘It is also apparent that Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have each taken steps to strengthen their complaints-handling procedures since the new TCP Code was registered last September, and has dedicated considerable resources to TCP Code compliance. However, the ACMA will continue to monitor compliance in this area.’

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Blake Murdoch, on (02) 9334 7817, 0434 567 391 or media@acma.gov.au.

Backgrounder

 In May 2010, the ACMA launched the RTC public inquiry in response to record numbers of consumer complaints. At the same time, the peak telecommunications industry body, Communications Alliance commenced a review of its Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (the Code). The ACMA was an active participant in the Code review.

 In 2011, the final report arising from the RTC inquiry made six key recommendations for change:

  • stronger advertising rules including a requirement to advertise the cost of a standard (two minute) mobile call to assist consumers to understand and compare different telco offers
  • better product explanations at the point of sale to assist consumers understand and compare telco offers
  • mandatory expenditure and use management tools directed at preventing bill-shock
  • tighter complaints handling
  • the development of a customer care reporting framework
  • changes to aspects of the TIO scheme.

 The Code contains important new features that align with the RTC recommendations, including:

  • a ban on confusing advertising terms like ‘cap’, where the ‘cap’ amount is a minimum rather than maximum spend (implemented in September 2012)
  • a requirement for standard charging information to appear in most print and online advertising (implemented in October 2012)
  • a requirement that consumers be given a ‘Critical Information Summary’, no more than two pages long, containing the key pricing and product information before they commit (implemented on 1 March 2013)
  • a suite of tools to help consumers take control of their communications spend (for example, post-paid mobile users will get SMS messages telling them when they have reached spend points) (to be implemented on 1 September 2013 and 1 September 2014)
  • internal telco complaints-handling procedures will meet the Australian Standard on complaints handling (implemented in September 2012).

 Since the Code was registered in September 2012, the ACMA has been engaging with industry to ensure that the Code is effectively delivering the desired consumer protections. The ACMA has met with more than 40 providers to discuss the code, and also started 322 preliminary enquiries and nine investigations in the last ten months. We have also issued seven formal warnings and three directions to comply with the Code.

In general, the ACMA has found that providers are demonstrating a genuine desire to comply with the Code, and have been very receptive to the ACMA’s approaches.

More information on the TCP Code is available on the ACMA website.

Last updated: 14 April 2016