ACMA rules kick in on telco complaints

Telco consumers can expect a better complaints-handling experience under a new industry standard and record-keeping rules announced today by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

This is the first tranche of new rules announced by the ACMA in December 2017 to improve consumers’ experience in migrating to the National Broadband Network (NBN). The ACMA’s actions follow its industry information-gathering exercise and its consumer research, a snapshot of which was published in March 2018.

‘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,’ she added.

The new rules will oblige:

  • telcos to:
    • have and follow a written complaints-handling process that meets minimum standards
    • acknowledge all consumer complaints within two working days
    • use their best efforts to resolve complaints on first contact, and
    • otherwise, resolve complaints within 15 working days
  • all entities in the NBN supply chain work to together to seamlessly resolve consumer complaints in a timely and effective manner
  • larger providers to provide complaints data to the ACMA to allow it to monitor industry complaints-handling performance and identify new trends driving complaints

The new rules take effect on July 1 and will be immediately and directly enforceable by the ACMA. For example, if a telco breaches an industry standard, the ACMA can commence court proceedings seeking remedies such as injunctions and civil penalties of up to $250,000.

‘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,’ Ms O’Loughlin said.

The ACMA will be announcing additional measures to improve the customer migration experience in the coming weeks.

For more information please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or