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February, 2019 6:14 AM

Govt wants better telco complaints system

Govt wants better telco complaints system

The federal government has released consultation paper on tough new rules for telecommunications companies to improve how they deal with customer complaints.

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By AAP 05.07.2018 10:16 AM

Penalties for slack telco companies would be part of a strict new consumer complaints system being proposed by the federal government.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has released a consultation paper on tough new rules for telecommunications companies to hold them accountable for how they treat their disgruntled customers.

Senator Fifield said the most common complaints to the industry ombudsman concerned billing and customer service, and Australians were being let down by a elf-regulatory resolution system "which isn't working".

"Consumers are fed up with poor service and inadequate safeguards when their telco fails to address a complaint," he said in a statement on Thursday.

"For example, the (Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman) had more than 158,000 complaints last year, compared to just over 2000 complaints to the New Zealand Telecom Dispute Resolution service and around 9000 complaints to the Canadian telecommunications complaints scheme."

The consultation paper proposes setting up a new external dispute resolution body to deal with complex complaints.

The independent body would have the power to force providers to fix problems or provide compensation, and would even have the ability to issue fines.

The industry ombudsman would still have primary responsibility for dealing with complaints, but would need to do so in line with new standards enforced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

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