The ACMA

Landlines

Phone connection and repair

Customer Service Guarantee: FAQs

What is the Customer Service Guarantee?

The Customer Service Guarantee (CSG) is a standard designed to encourage service improvement and guard against poor service. Phone companies must meet minimum performance requirements for specified services and compensate customers when these are not met.

Which services are covered by the Customer Service Guarantee Standard?

The CSG Standard covers the supply of standard telephone services, including voice grade services used to connect to the Internet. Enhanced call-handling features that require activation by a phone company are also covered, including call waiting, call forwarding, call barring, calling number display and calling number display blocking. These services are commonly referred to as CSG services.

Phone companies must meet maximum time frames for:

  • connection of a CSG service;
  • repair of a fault or service difficulty; and
  • attending appointments with customer

Which services are not covered by the Customer Service Guarantee Standard?

The CSG Standard only applies where a phone company offers a CSG service at a customer's location. It does not apply to:

  • mobile phone services;
  • Internet services;
  • customer equipment, such as the telephone handset; or
  • pre-selection (change of phone company or 'churn') delays.

The CSG Standard does not apply to customers with more than five phone lines.

What happens if I transfer my existing phone service to another phone company?

Customer transfer, irrespective of whether the transfer to a new phone company involves the connection of a new service, is not covered by the CSG Standard. More information about your options for choosing a phone company is in an ACMA fact sheet, Your options for choosing a telephone company, which is on the ACMA website.

What are the maximum time frames for connecting a service?

The maximum time frame for the connection of a new CSG service depends on whether a service has been in place or not. If no service has previously been installed, the maximum time frame will depend on the distance of the site from telecommunications infrastructure and the size of the community in which it is located.

The following table outlines the maximum time frames for connections.

 Community  In-place connections  New service connections
 Close to infrastructure and spare capacity  Without infrastructure or spare capacity

 Urban

(Equal to or more than 10,000 people)

 

Within 2 working days*

 

Within 5 working days*

 

Within 20 working days (equivalent to 1 month) after request*

 Major rural

(Between 2,501 and 9,999 people)

 

Within 2 working days*

 

Within 10 working days*

 

Within 20 working days (equivalent to 1 month) after request*

 Minor rural

(Between 201 and 2,500 people)

 

 

Within 2 working days*

 

Within 15 working days*

 

Within 20 working days (equivalent to 1 month) after request*

 Remote

(up to 200 people)

 

Within 2 working days*

 

Within 15 working days*

 

Within 20 working days (equivalent to 1 month) after request*

 * If a customer's phone company makes a commitment to connect in less time than outlined in the above table, the reduced period becomes the connection time.

What are the maximum time frames for repairing faults or service difficulties?

The maximum time frames for repairing faults depend on the location of the customer's premises and the type of fault that requires repair.

The following table outlines the maximum time frames for each situation.

Community

Community size (people)

Repair time (after customer reports the fault)

Urban

Equal to or greater than 10,000 people

End of next working day

Rural

Between 201 and 9,999 people

End of second working day#

Remote

Up to 200 people

End of third working day#

# In certain circumstances, for example, where the fault can be rectified by the phone company without attending the customer's premises, the fault rectification period is the end of the next working day after report.

How is a fault defined under the Customer Service Guarantee?

The CSG Standard defines a fault or service difficulty as one or more of the following:

  • the absence of a dial or ring tone;
  • the inability to make or receive calls;
  • disruption to communications due to excessive interference;
  • repetition of service cut offs;
  • another condition that makes the service unusable; and
  • if the service includes an enhanced call-handling feature that required activation by a phone company, the non-functioning of this feature.

What are the maximum time frames for appointments?

Phone companies must meet certain time frames when making appointments with customers for connecting or repairing a CSG service. The appointment period must be no longer than five hours and the phone company must keep this appointment unless it provides the customer with reasonable notice of a change.

The following table outlines when an appointment is considered to have been missed.

 Community

Appointment period

Definition of a missed appointment

 

All locations

Four hours or less

Phone company does not attend within 15 minutes of the appointment period*

 

Urban and Major Rural

Between four and five hours

Phone company does not attend within the appointment period

 

Minor Rural and Remote

 

Between four and five hours

 

Phone company does not attend within the appointment period*

* An extra 45 minutes is allowed where the phone company must travel long distances for an appointment at premises in an area with a population equal to or less than 2,500 people

Can a person with a life-threatening medical condition ensure that their phone service will be connected or repaired in a shorter time frame than the maximum periods described in the Customer Service Guarantee?

Yes they can. The provision of faster connections, fault repairs and improved service reliability for a person with a life-threatening medical condition is known as Priority Assistance Service.

Priority assistance is designed to ensure that persons with a diagnosed life-threatening medical condition, which could rapidly deteriorate into a life-threatening situation, have access to a reliable, fully operational home telephone service to call for assistance when needed.

The time frames for connecting a service or reporting a fault are 24 hours in urban and rural areas and 48 hours in remote areas. If a priority assistance customer experiences two or more faults in a three month period, the phone service must be tested by the carrier.

Telstra is the only provider obligated to provide priority assistance services under its carrier licence conditions. Please contact your provider directly to find out if they can offer you a priority assistance service.

More information about priority assistance can be found here

Under what circumstances can phone companies be exempt from the Customer Service Guarantee Standard?

In certain circumstances, phone companies can claim an exemption from complying with the CSG. When a phone company claims an exemption, the CSG time frames are extended by the period of the exemption.

These circumstances include situations where the customer has not cooperated and denied access to his or her premises, or where non-compliance is due to circumstances beyond the control of the phone company, such as where natural disasters or extreme weather conditions cause mass disruption of services.

A phone company may also be excluded from the CSG if a customer's service is disconnected for non-payment of a charge and agreement has not been reached with the phone company for payment, or if a phone company believes the customer would be unable or unwilling to pay the charges for connection.

Smaller phone companies are also able to apply to the ACMA for a temporary exemption from complying with the CSG Standard for a nominated geographic area. For more information on this type of exemption, please see the subsection, The ACMA has granted my phone company a temporary exemption from complying with the CSG. How will this affect my phone service?

What is a mass service disruption?

Mass service disruptions (MSDs) are caused by circumstances beyond the control of the phone company, for example, damage to a phone company's facilities caused by a third party, natural disasters or extreme weather conditions. In these situations, mass outages of phone services may occur and the phone company may be restricted in its connection and fault rectification activities.

Phone companies are exempt from complying with the CSG Standard for services affected by an MSD, or for areas that are affected by the need to move staff or equipment to an area affected by an MSD.

When a phone company relies on an exemption from complying with the CSG Standard, it must either notify its customers directly or publish a public notice in a daily newspaper (circulating in the affected customers' area) and on the providers website specifying the services affected and the range of phone numbers to which the exemption relates.

Can an exemption be challenged?

If your phone company claims an exemption from the CSG, you are entitled to dispute the exemption. You should first raise your concerns with your phone company. However, if the issue is not resolved, you may lodge a complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). The TIO may investigate and, if necessary, determine an outcome.

For the TIO's contact details, please see the subsection, How do I claim compensation?

The ACMA has granted my phone company a temporary exemption from complying with the Customer Service Guarantee. How will this affect my phone service?

The ACMA has the power to grant a phone company that has a small share in the market for specified services in a specific geographic area a temporary exemption from complying with the CSG Standard. A temporary exemption may be granted for a period of up to five years and may be renewed for another five years on application to the ACMA.

If your phone company has been granted a temporary exemption from the CSG, the exemption will only affect new services in the area for which your provider has been granted an exemption. If your phone was connected before the temporary exemption was granted, or is not located in the geographic area specified in the exemption, the service will be supplied in accordance with the CSG Standard.

If you request a CSG service from a phone company that has been granted a temporary exemption that covers your location, the service will be provided in accordance with the conditions offered by that company. The CSG time frames for connection, fault rectification and appointments will not apply.

A phone company that has been granted a temporary exemption from complying with the CSG Standard is required to provide information about the exemption to those customers, including prospective customers, who are likely to be affected by the exemption.

Is my phone company required to inform me about the Customer Service Guarantee?

Phone companies are required to provide information to customers about their obligations and the customer's entitlements under the CSG Standard as soon as possible after connecting the customer to a CSG service. They must also provide this information to customers at least once every two years.

Where a phone company is aware that it has relied on, or is likely to rely on, an exemption from compliance with the CSG Standard in relation to connection or repair activities, it must inform the customer.

Can I waive my rights under the Customer Service Guarantee?

Provided certain safeguards are met, customers are able to waive their rights under the CSG Standard. This has been made possible to ensure that customers are not restricted in the choices they make. For example, your phone company may offer cheaper prices for a phone service if you are prepared to waive some or all of your rights to compensation under the CSG Standard.

What is an interim or alternative phone service?

An interim or alternative phone service is one that provides a customer with either a service for voice calls or access to a phone service.

An example of an interim service is a mobile phone service provided at standard phone rates to replace a standard phone service. An example of an alternative service is a call diversion service to a mobile phone or a second phone service.

Am I still eligible for a Customer Service Guarantee payment if I accept or refuse my phone company's offer of an interim or alternative service?

The CSG Standard does not apply where your phone company makes you a reasonable offer to supply you with an interim or alternative service and you accept or refuse that service. However, the phone company must supply you with sufficient information about the functionality and terms and conditions of supply of the services on offer to enable you to make an informed decision.

If I accept a Customer Service Guarantee payment can I still claim for my loss of business?

Accepting a CSG payment does not exclude you from pursuing other avenues available under common law.

What compensation is available?

Phone companies must pay customers compensation for each working day that connections or fault rectifications are delayed beyond the maximum CSG time frames, or if they fail to keep an appointment.

The following table outlines the compensation payable in each situation:

Customer

Services delayed

Compensation for first
5 working days (per working day)

Compensation after
first 5 working days
(per working day)

Residential/
charity

Connection or repair of standard telephone service

$14.52

$48.40

Connection or repair of enhanced call handling features to an existing service

$7.26

$24.20

Connection or repair of two or more enhanced call handling features to an existing service

$14.52

$48.40

Not keeping an appointment

$14.52 for each missed appointment

 

Business

Connection or repair of the standard telephone service

$24.20

$48.40

Connection or repair of enhanced call handling features to an existing service

$12.10

$24.20

Connection or repair of two or more enhanced call handling features to an existing service

$24.20

$48.40

Not keeping an appointment

$24.20 for each missed appointment

 

How do I claim compensation?

Your phone company must automatically pay you compensation when the maximum time frames are not met unless an exemption applies. If the company fails to pay compensation, you need to contact the company and seek to resolve the matter directly.

If you cannot resolve the issue with the phone company, you may raise the matter with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). The TIO may investigate and, if necessary, determine an outcome.

The TIO can be contacted as follows:

Free call*:

1800 062 058

Free fax:

1800 630 614

TTY:

1800 675 692

Website:

www.tio.com.au

Email:

tio@tio.com.au

Mail:

PO Box 276, Collins Street West, Melbourne VIC 8007

* Calls from mobile and public phones are charged at the applicable rate.

Where can I find more information?

Customers should first contact their phone company for more information about the CSG Standard.

If you have any general enquiries about the Customer Service Guarantee, please contact the ACMA's Customer Service Centre on 1300 850 115 or info@acma.gov.au.

Please note: This document is intended as a guide only. For this reason, the information contained herein should not be relied on as legal advice or regarded as a substitute for legal advice in individual cases.

Last updated: 07 October 2016

Most commented

Most read

Back to top