Telcos fail complaint-handling audit: ACMA

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Telcos fail complaint-handling audit: ACMA

The Australian Communications and Media Authority said telcos are failing to adhere to a new complaints-handling standard it handed down in July.

The watchdog said in its recent quarterly report that none of the 41 telcos that were audited from July to September provided consumers required information; specifically, they did not clearly set out minimum complaints-handling requirements and processes.

ACMA said the telcos have been informed of their findings, with some taking action to remedy the situation.

“Telco consumers need easy access to information about how to make a complaint and how their telco will handle that complaint. They also need to be confident that their problems will be dealt with promptly and effectively,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.

“While many providers moved swiftly to rectify the shortcomings identified by the ACMA’s audit, it is clear that not all customers are receiving the service required by the Standard. We will now consider formal action against the telcos that continue to fail to comply.”

ACMA also found that two telcos had no written complaints-handling processes available on their website, while seven had “substantial deficiencies” in their written processes. An unspecified number meanwhile did not classify complaints or set out processes for classification.

“This is the first time the ACMA has reported on telco compliance with new rules we introduced to help consumers migrate to services delivered over the National Broadband Network,” O’Loughlin said.

“The time critical nature of the NBN rollout means that early and consistent industry compliance is essential.”

ACMA’s latest Action on telco safeguards report also identified 15 investigations the authority made during the period, including the remedial direction given to Telstra about its priority assistance licence condition, to a $12,600 infringement notice paid by Lycamobile for failing to lodge annual compliance returns with the industry compliance body, Communications Compliance.

First announced in December, the rules require providers 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 make an effort to resolve complaints on first contact, and otherwise, resolve complaints within 15 working days.

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