The new complaint-handling rules imposed on telcos will come into effect on 1 July, the Australian Communications and Media Authority said.
First announced in December, the new rules will require carriage service providers (CSPs) offering services to consumer and small businesses to formally establish a complaints-handling process that focuses on customer needs and expectations.
Specifically, the rules require that telcos have and follow a written complaints-handling process that meets minimum standards, acknowledges all consumer complaints within two working days, ensures telcos use their best efforts to resolve complaints on first contact, and otherwise, resolve complaints within 15 working days.
ACMA also asked that all entities in the NBN supply chain work to together to “seamlessly resolve” consumer complaints in a timely and effective manner, and that larger companies provide it with complaints data that would allow the authority to monitor industry complaints-handling performance and identify new trends driving complaints.
“Both our industry information-gathering exercise and our survey of residential households demonstrate that telco complaints-handling practices need to improve,” said ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin.
“Consumers deserve to have their complaints dealt with quickly and effectively by their telco provider. In terms of NBN services, they should not experience the “buck-passing” in the handling of consumer complaints we have seen to date.”
The authority said any telcos found to have breached an industry standard will result in ACMA commencing court proceedings, seeking remedies such as injunctions and civil penalties of up to $250,000.
Additional measures are also set to be announced “in the coming weeks”.
“As the NBN rollout reaches its peak, it is even more important for telcos to step up and resolve migration issues quickly and effectively, so consumers can fully benefit from the new network,” O’Loughlin said.