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Helping customers with different needs

Some consumers have specific needs because of, for example:

  • disability
  • chronic, serious or life-threatening illness
  • Indigenous background
  • a language background other than English 
  • low literacy or numeracy
  • homelessness
  • rural or remote location
  • age.

We can help with complaints about how a provider has responded to your different needs, including complaints about priority assistance services – a higher level of service available to consumers with life threatening medical conditions. To resolve your complaint, we’ll consider the law, good industry practice and fairness.

Types of complaints from customers with specific needs

We deal with complaints about issues such as providers:

  • refusing to deal with a consumer’s chosen representative or advocate
  • not adapting their information, services or how they communicate to respond to a consumer’s different needs
  • ignoring or taking advantage of a consumer’s different needs when selling services
  • not giving a consumer correct, detailed information about disability equipment
  • not giving a consumer correct information about priority assistance services
  • rejecting an application for a priority assistance service, or delaying connection or repair of the service.

What you should expect from your provider: the law and industry practice

You should be able to communicate in a way that suits you 

If you have different communication needs, providers must take those into account when communicating with you. This could mean, for example, offering text communication facilities or providing documents in large print or Braille.

It should be easy to use an advocate or representative 

Providers must make it easy for you to have someone else, such as a financial counsellor, friend or carer, communicate on your behalf. To do this, providers should have a simple process for you to authorise an advocate or representative.  

Your provider should tell you if it doesn't offer priority assistance services 

Providers must tell consumers if they do not offer priority assistance services for people with a diagnosed life-threatening medical condition. 

More information

For more detailed information read our guidance on Responding to consumers with different needs - in detail.

Here's how other cases were managed

Complaint
A small business moved premises and their service provider didn't transfer their phone number to the new address.
Outcome
The service provider paid the small business $16,165 in compensation.

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This page was last updated on
21st Feb 2020