Code and industry change
New rules about clear advertising, complaint handling and bill shock in the new Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code have been well-received. The Code and a commitment by some providers to focus on better customer service are helping to reduce complaints.
Fewer complaints about poor sales information
The new code requires providers to give consumers clear and easy to understand information about a service they intend to buy. This includes not using confusing terms and giving consumers mobile coverage maps.
We received 19,483 complaints about point of sale advice issues in 2012-13 compared to 25,213 in the previous year - a 23 per cent decrease.
Few complaints about Critical Information Summaries
From March 2013, providers must give consumers a plain English, two-page summary of the essential service details.
Since then, we recorded 27 complaints where consumers said they were not given a summary and 67 complaints where consumers said summaries were unclear or inaccurate.
Fewer complaints about unexpectedly high bills
An important issue the TCP Code intends to tackle are unexpectedly high bills due to consumers not having the tools or help to control their spending.
From September 2013, the Code will require providers to alert consumers when they have used 50, 85 and 100 per cent of their allowance. We welcome moves from some providers that have acted on this well before the required date.
We received 12,610 new complaints in 2012-13 from consumers who did not receive adequate help from their provider when running up a high bill. This compares to 18,035 in the previous year, a 30 per cent decrease.
Fewer complaints about broken promises
Consumers have often made complaints about providers breaking promises to resolve complaints.
The new TCP code sets tighter rules about acknowledgement and resolution of complaints. We are also aware of providers making customer service and complaint handling a performance priority for their businesses.
A combination of these factors has caused a decrease in issues of providers breaking their promises – 35,389 issues in 2012-13 compared to 39,136 the previous year, a 9.5 per cent decrease.