Thursday, 18 July 2019 11:08

ACMA warns V4 Telecom over ‘inadequate’ complaints handling Featured

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Telco V4 Telecom has been warned by the Australian Communications and Media Authority over its “inadequate” complaints handling processes, as the regulator continues its industry-wide clampdown on non-compliance with complaints handling standards.

The ACMA — which says telcos need to “lift their game” on complaints handling — said on Thursday it had issued a formal warning to V4 Telecom after an investigation found some customers could not contact the telco to complain after a service outage.

It said V4 Telecom also failed to tell customers who made contact what it was doing to restore their services and did not keep complete records of complaints.

“As a result, V4 Telecom has contravened multiple provisions of the Complaints Handling Industry Standard between July and December 2018. The Standard was introduced by the ACMA to improve consumers’ experience in dealing with their telco,” the ACMA noted.

The ACMA has also directed V4 Telecom to comply with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (TCP Code) after the telco moved more than 30 customers to another wholesale network without notifying them.

And in a further warning, the ACMA said if it found further breaches of the complaints provisions by V4 Telecom, stronger enforcement options may be applied – and cautioned that telcos faced penalties of up to $250,000 for failing to comply with ACMA directions to comply with the TCP Code.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said: “Consumers have a right to expect that complaints to their telco provider will be heard, acknowledged and answered” and “it’s unacceptable for customer complaints not to be dealt with promptly."

Under the standard, telcos are required to meet minimum standards and timeframes when managing complaints.

The ACMA said it was monitoring telcos’ customer complaints handling as a compliance priority in 2019-2020.

The investigation of V4 Telecom is the ACMA’s 42nd investigation into complaints handling in 12 months, resulting in four telcos receiving remedial directions and 28 receiving formal warnings.

“Proper handling of customer complaints should be a high priority for telcos. It’s apparent however, that some telcos need to lift their game. Telcos are on notice that the ACMA will deal firmly with continued non-compliance with the Standard," O’Loughlin warned.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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