These are three simple tips to help with lodging telecommunications complaints.
Given that the issue of poor customer experience is more or less constantly in the news in some form or another, it surely comes as no news to anyone that the telecommunications industry has a pretty bad reputation in this area, and that consumer complaints have spiked dramatically in recent years.
The industry is currently implementing a new Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code in an effort to fix some of the issues, and in particular to lessen the instances of ‘Bill Shock’. While this new Code will no doubt help, there will still be times when you need to register a complaint with your provider, in order to seek change or redress. We won’t lie to you. Registering a complaint with a telecommunications carrier is almost never an enjoyable experience. Don't go into it expecting a recreation of Monty Python's famous 'dead parrot' sketch.
The following guidelines tell you the steps you should take in order to to give your dispute the best possible chance of being resolved successfully.
- Be Prepared!
Being ready to state your case clearly will almost always make the whole thing go smoother. Make sure you have all the relevant information on hand. This primarily includes your bill, especially the part around which the dispute is based, such as excess data charges or those premium adult services you insist you haven’t accessed. If you have a contract, make sure you have that on hand as well. Beyond that, have a clear outcome in mind. Do you want your supplier to waive a particular charge? Do you want your plan altered, or changed, or will a simple bolt-on fix the issue? Is this an ongoing problem that you want never to happen again? Do you want your contract cancelled? It is important to have these goals in mind.
- Be Prepared!
- Contact Your Carrier
Details on how to make complaints should be clearly provided on your carrier’s website. When calling be certain to have your account number on hand. Above all, make sure you are absolutely clear on the nature and details of your dispute / complaint. Make sure to keep clear and detailed records of all contact around the matter, including time and duration of calls, and save any emails. Also be open to any explanation your carrier might provide. It is unfortunately the case that the majority of suspicious charges are the fault of the user. Furthermore, always make sure you are provided with a reference number for your particular complaint / enquiry.
It also generally pays to remain calm, no matter how righteous your upwelling wrath feels. Perhaps you can take a little comfort in the knowledge that the only person enjoying themselves less than you is the operator taking your call. You’re probably their hundredth such call that day, and you can bet the other ninety-nine weren’t ringing in to pay their compliments. They’ve certainly heard their share of indignant shouting already, and, unless you’re especially inventive in this area, they’ve probably heard it all before.
Your complaint should be resolved within 30 days of it being first registered, whatever the outcome. If this has not happened, contact them again to see what the problem is. Be sure to have your reference number on hand when you do this. If you find their response unsatisfactory, you have the right to tell them, and ask what your available options are, or what else can be done. Carriers are legally bound to inform you of your right to take the matter to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).
- Contact the TIO
The TIO should only be contacted if you have first given your provider a reasonable chance to resolve the issue. If this has not happened you will generally be advised to take the matter up with the provider. The TIO is always the final option, not the first. The TIO has the power to compel the provider to investigate your claim, compel the carrier to rectify the issue, to waive charges, or to reimburse you.Complaints with the TIO can be done via any of the following methods:
- Call 1800 062 058
- Fill out the webform at www.tio.com.au
- By post to PO Box 276, Collins Street West, VIC 8007
- By fax to 1800 630 614
- Contact Your Carrier