[LINK] ACCAN re the Failure of Self-Regulation

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Tue Nov 8 12:26:31 AEDT 2011

[Here's one to keep on hand when people like the Australian Press 
Council asks whether the TIO is a model that should be used for the 
media as well.]

ACCAN Media Release
Telco industry scores an 'F' on annual complaints scorecard
Tuesday, 08 November 2011

The telco industry had more than 197,000 new complaints from its 
customers lodged with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman in 
the last financial year, representing a 17.8% increase on the 
previous year's result and making this the highest number of 
complaints on record.

The top three issues for consumers were again customer service, 
complaint handling, and billing and payments.

"The telco industry has scored another 'F' this year for customer 
service and complaint handling for failing to address its customers' 
problems in a timely manner," ACCAN Chief Executive Officer Teresa 
Corbin said today.

"Worryingly still, while complaints are higher than they have ever 
been, research tells us these complaints are only the tip of the 
iceberg. There any many more customers who are unaware of the TIO's 
existence or simply worn down by the many hours spent trying to 
resolve complaints over the phone with their telcos."

ACCAN says while Vodafone's well-publicised network issues have 
contributed to the 51.4% rise in the number of complaints about 
mobiles, complaints are up across the board for all of the top ten 
telecommunications providers, with the exception of the nation's 
biggest provider, Telstra, which has had a 3% decrease in complaints.

ACCAN says now is a crucial time for the industry, which has been 
given a February deadline by the telecommunications regulator, the 
Australian Communications & Media Authority, to ensure adequate 
consumer protections are put in place through the industry's own Code 
or face regulatory intervention.

"This consistently high level of complaints year-on-year to the 
Ombudsman and the length of time it takes the average customer to 
have a problem fixed is an untenable situation," said Ms Corbin.
"Consumer detriment has been so significant over such an extended 
period in this area that we believe the introduction of regulation in 
the form of a complaints-handling service provider determination or a 
standard is the only way the industry is going to change."

Research released by the TIO earlier this year found than more than 
60% of customers surveyed who had filed a complaint with the 
Ombudsman had spent three or more hours unsuccessfully trying to 
solve their complaint before approaching the TIO, with one in five 
having spent more than nine hours trying to resolve their complaint.

"This dire situation cannot be allowed to continue where you have 
hundreds of thousands of Australian customers receiving the short 
shrift from companies providing essential communication services."

Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

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