ACMA's new complaint handling rules coming soon

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Friday, 08 June, 2018

ACMA's new complaint handling rules coming soon

ACMA has announced its new telecoms complaints-handling rules, requiring operators to acknowledge all consumer complaints within two working days.

The new rules will come into effect on 1 July and will require operators to develop and follow a written complaints-handling process that meets minimum standards.

Operators will be required to use their best efforts to resolve complaints on first contact. Where this fails, they will be obliged to resolve complaints within 15 working days.

The complaints-handling rules represent the first tranche of new rules being developed by ACMA to improve customers’ experience in migrating to the nbn.

All entities working within the nbn supply chain will be required to work together to resolve consumer complaints in a timely and effective manner, and larger providers must submit complaints data to the regulator so it can monitor industry complaints-handling performance.

“Both our industry information-gathering exercise and our survey of residential households demonstrate that telco complaints-handling practices need to improve,” ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.

“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.”

Communications Alliance, the industry body representing Australia’s telecoms sector, has welcomed ACMA’s new complaints-handling standard, noting that it is based on the existing arrangements in place under the industry’s self-developed consumer protections code.

“We hope the net result of these and the other rules still under development by the ACMA will contribute to a better experience for customers migrating to nbn-based services — an outcome that will be welcomed right across Australia,” Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton said.

But he noted that the tight deadline for complying with the rules could pose issues.

“It needs to be recognised that for telecommunications providers to put in place new business processes, make changes to IT systems and train frontline staff in order to be able to comply with new rules — all in the space of three weeks — is virtually impossible,” Stanton said.

“We hope that the regulator recognises this reality and will exercise some understanding while service providers are racing to become compliant.”

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