ACMA’s new rules will make it easier to resolve complaints about the NBN

Posted: 15 March 2018 12:19 pm

Now is the time to have your say on how NBN complaints should be handled by Internet service providers.

It's no secret that the NBN rollout has been one that's run much less smoothly than just about anyone would have liked.

Even NBN Co admitted earlier in this week that "When it comes to customer experience, we know there is more work to be done" as it launched its monthly consumer report that, amongst other details, highlighted how it has NBN congestion down to just 12 minutes per week.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has indicated that it wants to implement new rules to protect consumers as they shift onto the NBN.

"Telco customers deserve to have their complaints dealt with quickly and effectively. As industry co-regulation is proving ineffective in this area, we will put in place rules so that the ACMA can act more quickly to deal with non-compliance," said Nerida O’Loughlin, chair of the ACMA.

ACMA's research into customer complaints highlighted that while 79% of consumers felt they had sufficient information from their internet provider prior to connection, there was a range of issues that affected customers prior to and during connection:

In light of its research, the ACMA proposes new guidelines that would require providers to create and publish complaint handling processes that focus on customer needs and expectations, as well as requiring providers to ensure that senior staff handle complaints issues as and when they crop up.

When a consumer makes a complaint under the proposed new rules, their provider would be obliged to make the complaints handling process document available to them, so that they have an understanding of expected processes while their complaint is handled.

Consumers would have the power under the new rules to escalate complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman if issues are not resolved within a satisfactory timeline.

Providers would also be blocked from taking legal action against a consumer "where part of the amount on a bill is the subject of an unresolved complaint or while a complaint is being investigated by the TIO".

The ACMA will take public submissions on the new rules until 16 April 2018, with the expectation that the rules would go into effect no later than 3 months after 22 June 2018. If you'd care to make a submission, you can do so via the ACMA website until 5pm on 16 April 2018.

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