This document explains our complaint handling process (CHP) for our past, current and prospective customers (we’ll call them all customers) who are covered by the Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints Handling) Industry Standard 2018 (Complaints Standard).
It outlines how we handle complaints, and is intended especially for our customers, our own staff, other telcos involved in our supply chain, and other interested parties, and it includes the minimum requirements for consumer complaints handling as required by the Complaints Standard.
2. Accessing this Complaint Handling Process
(a) This CHP is available on our website.
(b) We’ll also make it available to you:
1. if you ask for it; or
2. as soon as practicable after you inform us that you wish to make a complaint
3. Who this CHP applies to
This CHP applies to you if you are:
(a) an individual customer who acquires a telecommunications product mainly for personal or domestic use and not for resale; or
(b) a business or non-profit that, at the time of contract:
(i) acquires a telecommunications product not for resale; and
(ii) doesn’t have a genuine and reasonable opportunity to negotiate the terms; and
(iii) has an (anticipated) annual spend with us of $20,000 or less
4. Some special terms
(a) ‘ACMA’ means Australian Communications and Media Authority – see clause 39(d).
(b) ‘Financial hardship’ means a situation where:
(i) you can’t discharge your financial obligations to us, due to illness, unemployment, being the victim of domestic or family violence, or other reasonable cause; and
(ii) you believe that you will be able to discharge those obligations if the payment or other arrangements relating to the supply of telecommunications products by us to you are changed.
(c) ‘Personal information’ means the same as in the Privacy Act 1988.
(d) ‘Solution’ means a way to deal with a complaint – not necessarily the way you want.
(e) ‘Telecommunications product’ means the same as in the Complaints Standard – it covers most telco services and associated goods we supply.
(f) ‘TIO’ means Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman – see clause 29.
(g) ‘Working day’ means a day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or gazetted public holiday in the location of your premises or principal place of business.
(a) You may choose to appoint a ‘Representative’ ie either:
(i) an Authorised Representative – who is a person who has authority from you to deal with us on your behalf as your authorised agent; or
(ii) an Advocate – who is a a person nominated on your behalf to deal with us on your behalf, but does not include an Authorised Representative or a person who has authority to access your account information from us.
(b) The forms and procedures for nominating a Representative are on our website.
(c) You can nominate a Representative to make and handle a complaint for you.
6. What’s a ‘complaint’?
Any of the following counts as a complaint:
(a) if you express dissatisfaction about our products or services; or
(b) if you express dissatisfaction about our complaint handling process – and you tell us, or imply, that you expect a response, but if you make an initial call to request information, or to request support, or to report a fault or service difficulty, we won’t treat it as a complaint unless you ask us to. Furthermore, if there was legal action already underway, the subject of that wouldn’t be treated as a complaint.
2. When is a complaint ‘resolved’?
A complaint counts as ‘resolved’ when:
(a) we and you have agreed on a solution, and we have fully implemented it; or
(b) you escalate it to the TIO; or
(c) all internal resolution processes set out in this CHP have been completed and:
(i) you and we have not agreed on a solution; and
(ii) we have advised you about your options for external dispute resolution, including the TIO – see clauses 29 and 39; or
(d) we are otherwise entitled to close the complaint under the Complaint Closing Rules in clause 27.
3. Our complaints goal
As a customer, you have the right to make a complaint. Our goal is to keep our customers satisfied, and that means as few complaints as possible, and that any complaints that do arise are dealt with openly, fairly and promptly.
To support that goal:
(a) Our complaints process is approved by our Chief Executive Officer (or equivalent), who is responsible for ensuring its implementation, operation and compliance in accordance with the Complaints Standard.
(b) Our complaints process is managed by a senior manager who must maintain the effective and efficient operation of the process in accordance with the Complaints Standard.
(c) Our complaints process is focused on your needs and expectations and is designed to be easy to understand and use.
4. How and when you can make a complaint
You can make a complaint:
|By letter to:|
Customer Relations Team
PO BOX 310 Chirnside Park VIC 3116
|On our website at:|
1300 023 354
|9am – 12am Monday to Friday|
|By Email: firstname.lastname@example.org||Anytime|
5. How and when you can monitor the progress of a complaint
You can monitor complaint progress:
|Call 1300 023 354|| 9am – 12am Monday to Friday|
| Email email@example.com||Anytime|
6. If you need assistance
We will assist you to formulate, lodge and progress a complaint if you need help, especially including because of disability, hardship and difficulties with English. Just let our Customer Care officer know you want help and, if you can’t tell us in that way:
(a)write or email your request to an address in clause 9; or
(b) contact us through your Representative – see clause 5; or
(c) contact us via the National Relay Service on 133 677; or
(d) contact us via the Translating & Interpreting Service on 131 450.
7. Receiving your complaint
We’ll receive your complaint through any of the contact points in paragraph 9.
8. Our complaint management steps
We will use our best efforts to resolve your complaint on the first contact. If we can’t do that, the steps in the following clauses apply.
9. Acknowledgement of your complaint
(a) If you make a complaint in person or by telephone to a Customer Care officer, we’ll acknowledge it immediately.
(b) If you make a complaint by email, or through our website or another customer service website we approve, or by paper post, or by a telephone message recording system, we’ll acknowledge it within two working days.
(c) When we acknowledge your complaint, we’ll allocate it a unique reference number or take another measure so we can later identify the complaint and its subject matter (Complaint Number), and advise you of the Complaint Number.
10. Initial assessment of your complaint
On initial assessment, a Customer Care officer will:
(a) identify and flag it if it is an urgent complaint – see clause 16;
(b) categorise it according to our standard categories in clause 34;
(c) identify and flag complaints about billing errors – see clause 23;
(d) assess whether it can be resolved without further investigation, and if so skip to:
(i) clause 21 (for non-urgent complaints) or
(ii) clause 22 (for urgent complaints).
11. How we identify urgent complaints
Your complaint is identified as urgent if:
(a) you have applied for or have been accepted as being in financial hardship under our Financial Hardship Policy and the subject matter of your complaint can reasonably be presumed to directly contribute to or aggravate your financial hardship; or
(b) disconnection of your service is imminent or has occurred and where due process has not been followed; or
(c) it relates to a service for which you receive Priority Assistance under the Priority Assistance for Life Threatening Medical Conditions Code.
Our Customer Care officers are trained to watch for these factors and must flag a complaint as urgent if any of them are seen to apply.
12. Internal prioritisation process
We are flexible in the way we prioritise complaint processing because special circumstances can apply. But in normal circumstances:
(a) Urgent complaints have the highest priority.
(b) Complaints involving services to customers with significant health problems, or the care of young children or who are in remote locations or who are old-aged are prioritised next.
(c) Complaints that are approaching, or have exceeded maximum response times are prioritised next.
We can often only know about these, or other, important factors if you tell us. You can alert us using any of the contact channels through which you can lodge a complaint.
13. Concerns about applicable response time
If you notify us that you are not satisfied with the response times that apply to the handling or management of your complaint, within two working days we’ll advise you about:
(a) our internal prioritisation process – see clause 17;
(b) our internal escalation process – see clause 28; and
(c) options for external dispute resolution, including the TIO – see clauses 29 and 39.
14. Concerns about response time
If you reasonably notify us that you want your complaint to be assessed and treated as urgent, within two working days we’ll advise you about:
(a) our internal prioritization process – see clause 17;
(b) our internal escalation process – see clause 28; and
options for external dispute resolution, including the TIO – see clauses 29 and 39.
15. Investigation of your complaint
In investigating a complaint, a Customer Care officer will:
(a) make any relevant enquiries of you, your Authorised Representative or Advocate, or our systems or other staff, or of any other telcos involved in our supply chain, and other interested parties;
(b) investigate the complaint suitably for its seriousness;
(c) fairly and carefully consider the merits of the complaint;
(d) focus on finding the optimal solution for you and the situation;
(e) seek guidance from a manager if necessary; and
(f) keep in mind our obligations under the Complaints Standard and this document.
16. Our response and proposed solution
(a) We’ll offer a solution for your complaint within 15 working days of receiving it unless a delay prevents that – see clause 30.
(b) We’ll confirm that offer in writing, within five working days after you ask us to.
17. Handling urgent complaints & how it’s different from ordinary complaints
An urgent complaint will be handled generally in accordance with this CHP, but within two working days of receiving your urgent complaint, we will:
(a) offer a solution; and
(b) if you accept that solution, action it –(unless a delay prevents that – see clause 30) and we’ll confirm that in writing, within five working days after you ask us to.
18. Complaints about billing errors
If you make a complaint during a billing period about a billing error, we will resolve it by the end of the next billing period.
(a) The solution we offer will be tailored to you so that, as far as practicable, it addresses the main cause of the complaint, and your individual circumstances.
(b) Where a complaint is indicative of a broader problem or systemic issue, we’ll seek to resolve the main cause of that problem or issue.
(c) We aren’t required to action that proposed solution unless and until you accept it. If you do accept our proposed resolution, we are allowed a period of time to action it – see clause 26.
20. Communicating our decision about the complaint
(a) We’ll notify you of our decision about your complaint as soon as practicable after we complete our investigation, including offering any solution in accordance with clause 21.
(b) We’ll communicate this information by email or text message or by phone.
(c) We’ll confirm it in writing, within five working days after you ask us to.
21. Implementing an agreed solution
We’ll fully action a solution within ten working days after you agree to it, unless:
(a) we and you agree otherwise; or
(b) you agreed to do something to facilitate the solution by a certain time, and you failed to do so; or
(c) it’s an urgent complaint and clause 22 applies.
22. Closing a complaint – (Complaint Closing Rules)
We may close your complaint in our complaints system if:
(a) the complaint is resolved and there is nothing left for us to do; or
(b) you consent; or
(c) we have completed the Unsatisfactory Outcome Procedure in clause 31; or
(d) we have completed the Unreasonable Complaint Procedure in clause 32; or
(e) we have completed the Lost Contact Procedure in clause 33.
23. Internal escalation process
(a) Your complaint will escalated and managed accordingly if you reasonably request it.
(b) You can request escalation using any of the contact channels through which you can lodge a complaint.
(c) Internal escalation and management may not accelerate resolution if the complaint is not urgent and its processing already meets the applicable standards and is within the permitted maximum response time/s.
(d) A complaint will be automatically escalated if:
(i) a maximum response time has been exceeded;
(ii) it becomes urgent;
(iii) you notify us of another factor that increases the seriousness of your complaint or the need for expedited resolution.
(e) Each escalated complaint will be referred to a more senior Customer Care officer, who will assess the reason/s for the escalation and the best way to respond to them, and direct action accordingly.
24. Process where a complaint is referred to the TIO for external resolution
(a) You may escalate a complaint to the TIO after we have been given a reasonable opportunity to resolve it.
(b) The TIO can be contacted:
(i) through its website at www.tio.com.au;
(ii) by phone on 1800 062 058;
(iii) by writing to PO Box 276, Collins Street West Vic 8007;
(iv) through the National Relay Service – call on 1800 555 677 then ask for 1800 062 058 ;
(v) by faxing a consumer complaint form (see www.tio.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/9195/TIO-consumer-complaint-form-Feb-2016.pdf) to 1800 630 614; or
(vi) by emailing the consumer complaint form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c) The TIO may accept your complaint if:
(i) it is about your landline telephone, mobile or internet service, damage to your property or telecommunications equipment; and
(ii) you have already tried to contact us to resolve your complaint with us; and
(iii) you the account holder or have you been authorised to deal with the matter by the account holder; and
(iv) your complaint less than two years old (or between two and six years old, if you have a good reason for not making it before).
(d) If TIO accepts your complaint, it will process it according to its current procedures.
25. If delays occur or are anticipated
(a) If there’s a delay in the timeline for managing or handling your complaint, we’ll inform you as soon as possible after we become aware of it.
(b) If we do not reasonably believe we can resolve your complaint within 15 working days (or two working days for an urgent complaint) we will advise you within those periods:
(i) why there is a delay;
(ii) the new timeframe that will apply; and
(iii) if we expect a resolution to require more than ten more working days, of your options for external dispute resolution including the TIO (except if the delay is because of a notified mass outage of service).
26. Unsatisfactory Outcome Procedure
(a) If you:
(i) notify us that you are not satisfied with the progress of your complaint; or
(ii) notify us that you are not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint; or
(iii) enquire about your options to pursue your complaint further –
then we’ll advise you about:
(iv) our internal escalation process – see clause 28 (to the extent that you haven’t already availed yourself of it); and
(v) your options for external dispute resolution, including the TIO – see clauses 29 and 39.
(b) Unless you avail yourself of any remaining internal escalation process, we may then close your complaint under the Complaint Closing Rules.
27. Unreasonable Complaint Procedure
(a) If we consider that:
(i) we can do nothing more to resolve your complaint or assist you; and
(ii) your behaviour or complaint is frivolous or vexatious –
we may decide not to deal further with your complaint.
We won’t do that without careful consideration, and appropriate internal escalation, and acting reasonably.
(b) Within five working days of such a decision, we’ll advise you of the reasons for our decision and your options for external dispute resolution, including the TIO – see clauses 29 and 39.
(c) After that:
(i) we may then close your complaint under the Complaint Closing Rules; and
(ii) we reserve the right not to accept any further complaints from you on the same or similar issues, except as a part of an external dispute resolution process.
(d) Nonetheless, if you ask for written confirmation of our reasons and your options for external resolution, we’ll provide them within five working days – see clauses 29 and 39.
28. Lost Contact Procedure
(a) If we can’t contact you to discuss your complaint or offer a solution, we’ll write to you:
(i) advising we couldn’t contact you;
(ii) detailing our contact attempts; and
(iii) inviting you to contact us to discuss the complaint within a specified period (of at least ten working days).
(b) Unless you contact us to discuss the complaint within that period, we may then close your complaint under the Complaint Closing Rules.
29. Classifying complaints
(a) Complaints will be categorised as follows:
(i) Sales Complaint
(ii) Billing Complaint
(iii) Customer Care Complaintl and
(ii) Service Complaint
(b) Where, in the course of dealing with a complaint, a Customer Care officer recognises that a complaint should be classified by reference to alternative or additional categories, they must amend the classification accordingly and make a brief note of the amendment/s and reasons.
30. Restriction on legal proceedings
We will not commence legal proceedings against you that has the same subject matter as a complaint:
(a) while the complaint is being handled internally; or
(b) within seven working days after you are advised of the outcome of the complaint; or
(c) while the complaint is being investigated by the TIO.
31. Charges for using our complaints process
Our complaints process is free to use.
32. Limit on cancelling service
(a) you make a complaint; and
(b) you weren’t able to resolve it directly with us; and
(c) you pursue external dispute resolution –
we will not cancel your service for those reasons alone.
33. Credit management action suspended
We will not take credit management action over a disputed amount if you have made a complaint and we know:
(a) it has not been resolved to your satisfaction; and
(b) it is being investigated by us or the TIO or some other recognised third party.
34. External dispute resolution
The following external dispute resolution bodies may be able to assist with your complaint, but may require that you first attempt to resolve it directly with us:
(a) the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) – see clause 29;
(b) the Office of Fair Trading in Your State or Territory – visit your State or Territory consumer website;
(c) for Australian Consumer Law matters, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) – www.accc.gov.au;
(d) for Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code matters, the Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) – www.acma.gov.au;
(e) for privacy issues, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) – www.oaic.gov.au.
35. Further requirements for our staff
We will ensure that our staff who deal directly with customers and/or with complaints:
(a) understand the requirements for consumer complaints handling under the Complaints Standard and their roles and responsibilities under this CHP;
(b) understand what remedies are available to assist with the resolution of a complaint;
(c) manage and resolve complaints in an effective and efficient manner in accordance with the Complaints Standard;
(d) treat you with fairness and courtesy when you make a complaint;
(e) can identify and record a complaint; and
(f) can classify complaints in accordance with clause 34.
36. Guidance: helping customers with special needs or disabilities
TIO has published a comprehensive Position Statement on Responding to consumers with different needs (including special needs or disabilities):
We endorse this Position Statement and recommend that all Customer Care officers and other staff involved with complaint handling read and apply it.
37. Guidance: helping customers from non-English-speaking backgrounds
TIO has published a comprehensive Position Statement on Responding to consumers with different needs (including customers from non-English-speaking backgrounds):
We endorse this Position Statement and recommend that all Customer Care officers and other staff involved with complaint handling should read and apply it.
38. Guidance: helping customers suffering financial hardship
Our Financial Hardship Policy fully details how we deal with and help customers suffering financial hardship.
All Customer Care officers and other staff involved with complaint handling should read and apply it.
39. Complaint records we’ll keep
We’ll systematically record for each complaint, and retain for two years:
(a) the name and contact details of the consumer making the complaint, and their representative where applicable;
(b) a unique reference number or such other measure that will ensure the carriage service provider can subsequently identify the complaint and its subject matter;
(c) a description of the nature of the complaint and the issues raised as part of the complaint;
(d) a description of the resolution proposed by the carriage service provider or the consumer;
(e) the due date for a response;
(f) a description of the results of any investigation;
(g) a description of the proposed resolution of the complaint, including any associated commitments and the date this is communicated to the consumer;
(h) a description of our reasons for its proposed resolution;
(i) the consumer’s response to the proposed resolution of the complaint, any reasons given by the consumer, and if they have requested the proposed resolution in writing, that this request has been made;
(j) the implementation of any required actions; and
(k) copies of any correspondence sent by or to the consumer regarding the complaint.
We will ensure that personal information we collect in connection with a complaint is not disclosed to a third party except:
(a) as required to manage a complaint to the TIO or the ACMA;
(b) with your express consent; or
(c) as otherwise required or authorised by law.