Tuesday, 18 December 2018 10:40

Regulator goes after telcos over complaints-handling rule breaches Featured

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Regulator goes after telcos over complaints-handling rule breaches Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Australia’s telecommunications regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, is taking a heavy-handed approach to non-compliance with complaints-handling processes by telcos, with only 7 out of 41 telcos investigated found not to be in breach of the rules. And telcos who fail to carry out remediation directions issued by the ACMA face fines of up to $10 million.

As a result of the ACMA investigation 31 telcos now face enforcement action for not having appropriately documented complaints-handling processes available for their customers in compliance with new requirements in place since 1 July.

The full telecoms investigations report by ACMA shows Australia’s dominant telcos – Telstra, the Singtel-owned Optus and Vodafone Huchison have all breached the complaint-handling processes.

The investigations also found that:

  • Three telcos undertook comprehensive remediation to move into full compliance during the investigation process;
  • Twenty-seven telcos took positive steps to remediate; and
  • Four telcos took inadequate steps to remediate.   

As a result, the ACMA has issued formal warnings to 27 telcos and remedial directions to the four other telcos:

  • Australian Broadband Pty Ltd;
  • Flip TV Pty Limited;
  • Oztalk Communications Pty Ltd; and
  • Simply NBN Pty Ltd (trading as Hello Broadband).

The ACMA says these four telcos have been directed to fix deficiencies by 19 December or face serious financial penalties, adding that the telcos can seek reconsideration of the ACMA's decision to give them a direction.

“Having a documented complaints-handling process available for customers should be standard practice for every telco’, said ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin.

“Consumers should know how their telco will deal with their complaint. They should also have confidence that their complaint will be dealt with effectively, without ‘buck-passing’ across the service supply chain.

“Effective complaints-handling is even more critical as the migration of customers to services delivered over the NBN reaches its peak.

“The ACMA has put in place a comprehensive set of rules to ensure the telco industry lifts its game in complaints-handling. We are now moving to enforce those rules."

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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