3. How we handle complaints
This section explains how a consumer can make a complaint and how we will handle the complaint. We also have a published procedure about how we handle complaints.
How to complain
A consumer can complain by speaking to us or writing to us.
For example, a consumer can complain by calling us, e-mailing us or visiting our website.
A consumer can also ask someone else to complain to us for the consumer.
We can ask for proof that the consumer has given their permission for us to deal with the other person.
When we receive a complaint, we will promptly tell the provider about it.
We will work with the consumer and the provider to see if they can agree on a way to resolve the complaint.
We use a variety of methods to assist the consumer and the provider to resolve a complaint. We will tell the consumer and the provider what we expect them to do to help resolve the complaint.
We can tell the provider to send us any information or documents they have that are relevant to the complaint. The provider must give the information and documents to us.
We will tell the provider how long they have to give us the information and documents. We will be reasonable in setting this deadline but it will not be more than 28 days.
If a provider has information or documents that are relevant to the complaint but which contain someone else’s confidential information, we still want to see the information and documents. The provider does not have to give us the information and documents if the provider cannot get permission from the other person, but the provider must make reasonable efforts to get permission.
If a complaint is not resolved by agreement
If the consumer and the provider have not agreed how to resolve the complaint we may investigate the complaint.
We will tell the consumer and the provider if we intend to investigate the complaint.
We can decide a complaint
If we finish our investigation and the consumer and the provider have not agreed how to resolve the complaint, we will either:
(a) dismiss the complaint;
(b) decide the resolution of the complaint, and tell the provider the actions they must take or not take.
When we decide the resolution of a complaint, we can also recommend that the provider take or not take further actions.
Where we dismiss or decide the resolution of a complaint at the end of an investigation, we will give the consumer and the provider written reasons.
We can publish details about any complaint we have decided or dismissed.
The details we publish may include details of the complaint, the name of the provider and why we reached the decision or dismissed the complaint.
What we can decide
When we decide the resolution of a complaint, the value of any action we require (including the value of any temporary ruling we have made) is to be no more than $50,000.
The actions we can tell the provider to take include to:
- pay compensation to the consumer
- provide a telecommunications service to the consumer
- supply the goods or services that were complained about
- fix the problem complained about
- cancel or change a charge for a service
- provide specific operator services
- put in, leave out or fix an entry in a directory or record
The next steps after we decide the resolution of a complaint
When we decide the resolution of a complaint, the consumer must tell us if they accept our decision.
The consumer must tell us within 21 days.
If the consumer accepts our decision, they must agree not to take any further action against the provider about the complaint.
If the consumer accepts our decision, the provider must comply with the decision.
If the consumer does not accept our decision, the provider does not need to comply with our decision and the consumer can take any further action they want about the complaint.
What we can recommend
When we decide the resolution of a complaint, we can also recommend that the provider take or not take further actions. The provider must consider our recommendation but is not obliged to accept it and the consumer cannot complain if the provider does not accept our recommendation.
For each complaint the total value of any actions we decide and further actions we recommend must not exceed $100,000.
Where we make a recommendation about a complaint at the end of an investigation, we will give the consumer and the provider written reasons.
We can publish details about what we have recommended.
The details we publish may include details of the complaint, the name of the provider and why we made the recommendation we made.
We can arbitrate a complaint
If the total value of the complaint is over $100,000, and the consumer and the provider agree, we may arbitrate the complaint instead of following our published procedure about how we handle complaints.
We may stop handling a complaint
We may stop handling a complaint at any time if it is fair and reasonable to do so.
Examples of this may include where:
- we think it is reasonable for the consumer to pay some or all of the provider’s charges and the consumer refuses to pay this amount;
- we have asked the consumer to give us documents or evidence that we think may be relevant to their complaint by a stated time, and the consumer has not done so;
- another person or body is able to handle the complaint more effectively or conveniently than we can. If this happens, we can (if the consumer agrees) ask the other person or body to handle the complaint and give them all of the documents and information that we have about the complaint. We will then write to the consumer and the provider to tell them who will be handling the complaint;
- the consumer is making the complaint for an unacceptable reason, for example only to annoy the provider;
- we think the provider has made a fair offer to resolve the complaint and the consumer has not accepted the offer; or
- the consumer’s behaviour has been unreasonable.
We have published a procedure about when we may stop handling a complaint.
This version is published on 1 December 2014