If you are experiencing problems with your telecommunications product or service, you can make a complaint to your service provider.
You should contact your service provider in the first instance and indicate that you wish to make a complaint. You can make a complaint to a service provider if you are a current or former customer.
You can make a complaint by letter, over the telephone, by fax, online at a website or by email. It doesn’t have to be written. If your service provider has retail operations, you can make a complaint to a person in the store.
Acknowledgement and tracking of complaints
If you make a complaint to your service provider they must acknowledge it. This involves:
- Acknowledging it immediately if you made the complaint in person or by telephone
- Acknowledging it within two working days once the complaint has been received by your service provider when the complaint has been made in writing.
Your complaint must be assigned a unique reference number or some other identifier that will ensure your service provider can easily identify your complaint and its subject matter.
Where possible your service provider should seek to resolve your complaint on first contact. If this is not possible they need to advise you about the proposed resolution of your complaint as soon as is practicable after they have completed the investigation.
If you remain dissatisfied after dealing with your service provider, you can contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). The TIO provides independent, just, informal and speedy resolution of telephone complaints and disputes.
Asking other people to contact the provider for you
You can ask a friend, relative or other representative to deal with a provider on your behalf as an authorised representative or advocate.
An authorised representative can act on your behalf if required. You must clearly communicate to your authorised representative and service provider what rights you are giving this person. Where possible, such appointments should be made in writing and state the decisions your authorised representative is entitled to make on your behalf.
Alternatively, you can appoint an advocate. An advocate’s role is more limited—they are not authorised to access or make changes to your account or your telecommunications service unless they are also your authorised representative.
Complaint handling processes
Your service provider must provide a complaint handling process that is customer focused, accessible and easy to use. A summary of the process must be made available to customers.
If you do not have access to the internet you can ask for a free copy of the complaints-handling process.
Service providers may charge for calls to complaints-handling areas at local or low-cost call rates.
Making a complaint is a free service except in very limited circumstances, such as if you ask for information that is more than two years old to assist you to make a complaint. Before charging a fee, your service provider must discuss the charge with you. The charge must be reasonable and be based on cost recovery. You can then decide whether you wish to proceed with the complaint.
Your service provider is not allowed to cancel or suspend your telecommunications service because you made a complaint, because the complaint is unable to be resolved or because you have pursued external dispute resolution through the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.
Your service provider is formally required to classify and analyse complaints every three months to identify recurring problems and issues. They also need to monitor complaints to identify emerging issues and address these as soon as is practicable and record progress against addressing these complaints.
Your service provider needs to specify the response times for individual steps in its complaint handling process. These need to be clearly set out.
Urgent complaints, by customers in financial hardship or receiving Priority Assistance or where a disconnection has occurred or is in imminent and the processes set out in the Code for credit management have not been followed, should be resolved within two working days.
Most other complaints should be resolved within 15 working days.
If your service provider does not believe a complaint can be resolved within these timeframes, it must advise you, before the end of the relevant time period of:
- the reasons for the delay
- the time frame for complaint resolution
- notification of your options for external dispute resolution if the delay is 10 working days or more.
You must agree to any proposed resolution to your complaint before your service provider is required to implement it. But a resolution cannot be imposed on you if you don’t agree with it.
You can ask for your complaint to be escalated and managed under your service provider’s internal escalation process if you don’t agree with the proposed resolution of your complaint. You can also pursue your complaint further with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.
Once you have accepted the resolution of your complaint, your service provider needs to complete all the actions to deliver the resolution within 10 working days unless otherwise agreed with you or they are waiting for you to complete a step first.
If you are unhappy with the time frames that apply to the management of your complaint or you seek to have your complaint treated as an urgent complaint you will need to tell your service provider. Your service provider must then tell you about its internal escalation processes for complaints management and the options for external dispute resolution, including the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.