ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman announced the Reconnecting the Customer public inquiry into customer service and complaints handling issues in the telecommunications industry in a speech on 20 April 2010 (PDF).
In releasing the terms of reference for the inquiry and a consultation paper on 19 July 2010, MrChapman said, 'We want to understand what the problems are—the way the telecommunications industry is dealing with its customers and the root causes of those problems. And critically, we want to identify enduring solutions that will improve customer service and complaints-handling, both now and into the foreseeable future.'
At each stage of the inquiry, the ACMA sought input from members of the public, consumer groups, telecommunications service providers and other key interest groups.
The ACMA received over 130 written submissions to the consultation paper.
Public hearings were held in:
32 verbal submissions were received. The Sydney and Melbourne hearings were streamed live online.
In the initial consultation phase of the inquiry, the ACMA:
convened industry roundtables
convened roundtables with consumer and non–government organisations (NGOs)
held consumer focus groups in Sydney, Melbourne, Tamworth, Perth and Alice Springs
obtained specific information from a selection of telecommunications providers, using its compulsory notice powers
commissioned economic and market survey research
undertook research in relation to other jurisdiction and industry sectors.
On 9 December 2010 the ACMA released a progress report to provide an update on the work of the inquiry to that time and to give an overview of submissions.
'The progress report captures some of the themes emerging from the public inquiry, such as the different perspectives held by consumers and providers on what constitutes effective customer service and the problems associated with identifying and addressing complaints,' said Mr Chapman.
Other emerging themes included the complexities of today’s telecommunications industry, challenges facing disadvantaged and vulnerable consumers and concerns about the effectiveness of some aspects of the current regulatory framework to provide consumer safeguards—in particular, the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code (TCP code) and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) scheme.
The ACMA published a draft report in June 2011 detailing necessary changes to improve the way the industry deals with consumers.
As well as comments on this site, the ACMA received over 40 submissions on the proposed solutions.
Customer research studies
Reconnecting the Customer research studies—the ACMA commissioned a number of research studies to inform its thinking in its Reconnecting the Customer inquiry. Five of these studies were released at the same time as the inquiry draft report.