The Australian Communications and Media Authority welcomes the continued reduction in complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) about telco customer service.
Data released today from the TIO for the December quarter 2013 indicated the lowest quarterly complaint level in six years. Quarterly reductions in issues about transferring services between providers fell 21 per cent, as did complaint-handling (19 per cent) and faults 17 per cent. Overall there was a 6.7 per cent drop in complaints from the previous quarter.
‘It is very encouraging to see this trend continuing,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. ‘In particular, it is heartening to see complaints are down in each of the three core categories. The industry is continuing to make positive changes in line with the revised Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (the TCP Code).’
The Code applies to interactions between telecommunications service providers and their residential and small business customers and also addresses:
> the minimum information in upfront sales material. including a requirement to provide customers with a two page document called a Critical Information Summary
> the need to use plain and simple language, and include unit pricing in advertising
> obligations regarding credit management, customer transfers and complaint handling.
‘The industry’s trend-line improvement is also a telling example of industry, the regulator and consumer advocacy bodies working together for the benefit of all,’ Mr Chapman added.
As part of the Reconnecting the Customer (RTC) inquiry, the ACMA previously undertook data modelling to estimate the consumer costs associated with poor complaints handling, poor advertising practices and lack of critical information disclosures resulting in consumers choosing a sub-optimal plan.
The ACMA estimates that this has been costing telecommunications consumers up to $1.5 billion a year. Industry has also incurred substantial actual costs as well as time spent in handling those consumer complaints (including the cost of fixing and re-working previous matters raised by consumers).
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media release 16/2014 - 20 March
The TIO provides an external dispute resolution service for residential and small business consumers who cannot resolve their complaint with their service provider.
The TIO service is free and aims to settle disputes quickly, objectively and non-bureaucratically. It is independent of government, industry and consumer organisations.
Complaints accepted by the TIO mainly relate to matters covered by the TCP Code.
The TCP Code was registered in September 2012 and aligns with many recommendations of the ACMA’s RTC final report in 2011. The report resulted from the ACMA’s public inquiry into the customer service and complaints-handling practices of Australian telecommunications providers.
Amongst the changes reflected in the TCP Code have been the introduction of critical information summaries which are intended to allow consumers to more easily compare products, and the introduction of notifications about data usage and expenditure thresholds as well as complaints- handling mechanisms
Additionally, important conditions, limitations, qualifications or restrictions in product advertisements must now be identified to potential customers, and there are greater controls over the use of terms such as ‘unlimited’ and a cessation of the use of a ‘cap’ (unless the offer contains a hard cap).
By 1 September 2014, the last of the spend management tool provisions will have been phased in for voice and sms. At this time, all suppliers (regardless of their size) will need to send notification alerts for voice and sms no later than 48 hours after the customer has reached a usage level of 50 per cent, 85 per cent and 100 per cent. Large suppliers have been required to send usage alerts for voice and SMS at these levels since 1 September 2013, as have all suppliers with respect to data.