With the summer season upon us, the TIO is reminding providers about their obligations under the Customer Service Guarantee (CSG) Standard. We also set out below our process for handling complaints from landline consumers where circumstances beyond the control of the provider - such as extreme weather events or natural disasters - mean it cannot meet the CSG performance standards.
Your obligations under the CSG Standard
The CSG Standard sets timeframes for the connection, reconnection and repair of standard telephone services according to the size and remoteness of a community. If the provider does not meet these timeframes, it may have to pay compensation to the consumer for every day of delay beyond those timeframes.
A provider can claim an exemption when circumstances beyond its control limit its capacity to meet these timeframes. The types of events where a provider can claim an exemption for are listed in the CSG Standard. The provider must do this by notifying its customers, the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the TIO about what is commonly known as a Mass Service Disruption (MSD). The notification requirements are set out in the CSG Standard.
TIO approach to complaints
Consumers who cannot get services connected or repaired quickly may complain both to their service provider and to the TIO. However, where an MSD has been declared, there is little, if anything, to be gained from referring these matters as complaints to services providers, given their limited ability to respond.
We can only make the right decisions in these complaints, and provide correct information to consumers, where we are aware that a MSD has been notified. We are therefore asking providers to ensure they supply MSD notifications as early as possible.
When a service provider notifies the TIO of a MSD, and a consumer's only complaint is about a connection or fault repair delay, we give information about the MSD, and recommend the consumer contact their provider (or the TIO if required) if their service is not connected or repaired after the exemption expires. These matters are registered as enquiries, and not referred to the service provider. The discretion to treat these matters as enquiries only applies after the service provider has given a copy of the MSD notification to the TIO.
Where a consumer's complaint raises other issues - such as disputes over charges for services that were not working or broken promises made about a connection or repair - we will follow our standard complaint handling procedures. If you have not complied with notification requirements set out in the CSG Standard, and until you have provided notice to the TIO of an MSD, our standard complaint handling procedures will also apply.