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Australian telcos making progress on complaint handling: ACMA

The ACMA has found that Australia's big three telecommunications companies are making strides in resolving issues within 10 working days.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Three investigations conducted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) have found that, by and large, Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone have improved their customer complaints process since the introduction of the 2012 Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) Code.

Introduced on September 1 2012, the TCP Code requires telcos to have clearer advertising, spend-management tools, and improved complaint handling. The code was introduced in phases, with the new compliant and advertising rules arriving on day one, standard summaries of pricing and product information arriving in March this year, and spend-management being required by September 2013.

In February, the ACMA began investigations into Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone, with the telcos providing details of 200 customer complaints. Of these complaints, Telstra and Optus both had one complaint that the ACMA found to be in breach of the code — specifically, the clause that requires the resolution of an issue within 10 working days once the customer has agreed to the telco's proposed action to resolve the complaint — while Vodafone made it through without any breaches.

Responding to the ACMA's finding, Telstra said, "It would be almost impossible to improve its level of compliance with clause 8.2.1(a)(xiii) of the TCP Code, as 99 percent is such a high result, especially taking into account the potential for human error."

In the cases of both Telstra and Optus, the ACMA said that a single instance is very low as a proportion of complaints provided. While the sample size is small, the authority accepts that Telstra and Optus have "appropriate policies and procedures in place to comply", and that both telcos have "demonstrated a high level of compliance".

"The ACMA is pleased that the investigations indicate that the top three providers are delivering agreed resolutions to customer complaints in the time frames required by the TCP Code," said ACMA chairman Chris Chapman in a statement.

"It is also apparent that Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone have each taken steps to strengthen their complaints-handling procedures, since the new TCP Code was registered last September and has dedicated considerable resources to TCP Code compliance. However, the ACMA will continue to monitor compliance in this area."

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