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How telcos must manage complaints

If you supply telecommunications services to customers, you need a complaints process that meets the Complaints Handling Industry Standard.

If you are a customer, you can make a complaint about a telco.

On this page:

  • What is a complaint?
  • What to include in a complaints handling process 
  • Summary of timeframes
  • Monitor complaints

What is a complaint?

A complaint is when a customer tells you they are not satisfied with your products and services, or with how you handle complaints. In both cases, the customer expects you to respond and to resolve their complaint.

If you’re unsure whether your customer is making a complaint, you need to ask them.

You do not need to consider it a complaint if a customer calls to do one of the following:

  • ask about a service
  • report a fault

However, if the customer tells you that they want you to treat their call as a complaint, you must do so, regardless of the reason for their call.

Urgent complaints

A complaint is ‘urgent’ if:

  • the customer is in financial hardship according to your financial hardship policy
  • the customer receives priority assistance
  • you have disconnected the service or are about to disconnect it and have not followed the correct process

You must resolve urgent complaints within 2 business days.

What to include in a complaints handling process

The Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints Handling) Industry Standard 2018 (the Standard) contains all the information you need to develop a complaints process. 

It gives you the minimum requirements to:

  • make it easy for a customer to complain
  • meet timeframes to respond to and resolve complaints
  • make the process transparent for customers 

You must help customers make, lodge and progress a complaint, including if they:

  • have a disability
  • come from a non-English-speaking background 
  • are suffering from financial hardship

Key timeframes



Acknowledge you have received a complaint

Immediately, if the customer complains in person or by telephone

Within 2 working days, if the complaint is in writing (including email)

Resolve urgent complaints

Within 2 working days

Resolve most non-urgent complaints

Within 15 working days

Implement the resolution you agree

Within 10 working days 

The Standard contains all the actions and timeframes you must include in your complaints process.

If you can’t meet a timeline, you must tell your customer before the timeframe has passed:

  • the reason for the delay
  • when you expect to resolve the complaint 
  • what the customer can do if the delay is 10 working days or more

Monitor complaints

Telcos need to monitor complaints to identify emerging issues. At least every 3 months, you must formally classify and analyse complaints. You can do this more often if you choose.

This helps you:

  • identify and address recurring problems 
  • record progress against addressing these complaints

We can ask to see your records to check if you are following the standard. You need to keep information about complaints for at least 2 years.

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