4. Other rules about complaints
We can make a temporary ruling
We can make a temporary ruling about a provider's credit management action while we are handling a complaint. The provider must comply with this temporary ruling.
For example, we can make a temporary ruling telling the provider to reconnect a service, remove a default listing of the consumer or not pursue a debt. Before we make a temporary ruling we will ask the provider to stop its credit management action voluntarily.
Examples of credit management action include:
- any communication, for example by phone, in person or in writing, aimed at collecting money or reducing credit exposure
- imposing a service suspension, restriction or disconnection
- debiting, or attempting to debit, an amount from a credit card or other bank account
- reporting credit information to a third party, or threatening to do so
- threatening or initiating debt recovery legal proceedings or other debt collection processes
We can specify how long the temporary ruling will last. This will not be more than 90 days at a time.
Once the temporary ruling has finished we can extend the ruling or change the ruling. Each time, we can specify how long the temporary ruling will last. Each time, this will not be more than 90 days.
We will give the consumer and the provider written reasons for our temporary ruling.
We can publish details about any temporary ruling that we make.
The detail we publish may include details of the complaint and why we made the temporary ruling.
We will not publish the name of the provider.
A temporary ruling will only apply while we are handling the complaint. The provider does not have to comply with a temporary ruling once we have finished handling the complaint.
When a provider can take legal action
Once we have told the provider about a complaint, the provider must not take legal action in a court, tribunal or alternative dispute resolution forum about the complaint unless:
- (a) we have told the provider that we have stopped handling the complaint;
- (b) we did not deal with the complaint within a reasonable time;
Where the provider thinks that we have not dealt with the complaint within a reasonable time, the provider can write to us to tell us that they want to take legal action about the complaint. We will have 60 days from receiving this notice to resolve the complaint. The provider must continue to co-operate with us during this period, including by responding to correspondence and providing information and documents that we request If we have not resolved the complaint within 60 days the provider can start legal action. The provider must tell us promptly after starting legal action.
- (c) the legal action is necessary to prevent a significant risk of physical injury, damage to equipment or infrastructure, or interference with equipment or infrastructure;
- (d) the main point of the legal action is to decide whether these Terms of Reference allow us to handle the complaint;
- (e) the main point of the legal action is to decide the meaning of part of these Terms of Reference;
- (f) clause 4.7 allows the provider to start legal action.
Where a provider thinks that a complaint involves an important legal or policy issue or an issue that is important to the provider's business, the provider can start legal action (including against the consumer), or seek advice from another person or body (for example a telecommunications or consumer regulator) to resolve that issue.
The following rules will apply:
- The provider can only start legal action about that specific important issue. The provider cannot take the action complained about by the consumer until that specific important issue is resolved.
- The provider must give us notice identifying the specific important issue, where any legal action will be started, any person or body that the provider will seek advice from and the timeframe in which the provider will start that legal action or seek that advice. This timeframe must be 90 days or less.
- The provider cannot give this notice if we have already decided the resolution of the complaint.
- If the provider starts legal action against the consumer it must pay the consumer's full legal costs and expenses, including for any appeal points raised by the provider: and the provider must (if the provider thinks it reasonable) pay those costs regularly rather than waiting until the end of the legal action. The providers notice to us must state that the provider will pay these costs and expenses.
If the provider complies with these rules we will not handle the complaint until the specific important issue is resolved, unless the provider fails to start legal action or seek advice within the specified timeframe, or if we think a delay would make it hard to resolve the complaint fairly or would cause unreasonable difficulties for the consumer.
A provider can always report actual or suspected criminal activity to a suitable authority (e.g. the police) and assist such an authority with its work.
How we deal with information we collect
We will comply with privacy legislation and our privacy policies for information we collect.
If we are required by law to disclose information received, we will, wherever possible, notify the person who provided the information to us so that they can seek to challenge the disclosure.
We may share information with regulators, government bodies and community and industry groups.
For example, we may share information:
- that may be relevant to the investigation or enforcement roles of a regulator
- for the purposes of increasing legal compliance or promoting good practice
- for the purposes of suggesting improvements to the provision of telecommunications services
- to provide an independent voice about consumer telecommunications issues
We have published a procedure about how we may share information
We will comply with privacy legislation and our privacy policies if we share information
This version is published on 25 October 2017
A consumer noticed her name was not correctly spelt on her bill and she went into the providers store to fix it. Whilst in store, the provider convinced the consumer to sign up for a new NBN package which she did not fully understand.