The ACMA has put in place new rules to give consumers confidence that their complaints will be effectively managed by carriage service providers (CSPs) if problems arise with an NBN service. The rules are set out in the Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints Handling) Industry Standard 2018 and the Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints) Record-Keeping Rules 2018.
These new complaints rules are effective from 1 July 2018.
The new complaints-handling rules have been designed to improve the experience of consumers in how their complaints will be managed by CSPs.
Why was the Standard created?
Industry rules on complaints handling for CSPs have been in place under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (the TCP Code) for some time. However, our NBN consumer experience research indicated that the existing rules were not meeting community expectations during the transition to the NBN. One of the key problems revealed by the research was a lack of accountability, with complaints being ‘handballed’ between parties in the NBN supply chain, and extended complaint resolution times.
The research also revealed that almost one in three consumers who connected to the NBN made a complaint to their current or previous CSP over the 12 months prior to the research. For the second half of 2017, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) also reported handling an increasing number of escalated complaints.
What does the Standard do?
The new Standard will oblige:
have and follow a written complaints handling process that meets minimum standards
acknowledge all consumer complaints within two working days
use their best efforts to resolve complaints on first contact; and
otherwise, resolve complaints within 15 working days.
Record-keeping Rules (RKRs)
What do the new RKRs do?
The new RKRs will oblige retail CSPs with 30,000 or more residential and small to medium-size business services in operation, to provide complaints data to the ACMA, to allow it to monitor industry complaints-handling performance and to identify new trends driving complaints.
To comply with these obligations, retail CSPs must keep a record of the:
number of services in operation (in total and by service type) being supplied by them
number of complaints received by them in total in a record-keeping period and according to type of service
number of complaints referred to a provider by the TIO
average number of days taken to resolve a non-TIO referred complaint
number of days it taken to resolve at least 80 per cent of non-TIO referred complaints resolved by the provider during the record-keeping period
top three non-TIO referred complaint types by volume.
Qualifying CSPs are required to report complaints data in line with the record-keeping requirements identified above to the ACMA on a quarterly basis.