Stages of resolution
We resolve complaints through a four-step process - referral, conciliation, investigation and decision. We may escalate a complaint to a higher level until an agreed resolution is reached.
Providers have a chance to resolve the complaint before it is escalated at each level, and are notified of each escalation in writing. The timeframes for complaints vary if the issue is considered urgent.
There are different procedures for how we handle complaints at each level. These are described very briefly below and in more depth in the Complaint Handling Procedures.
- Complaints we don’t handle.
- We usually record the enquiry but take no further action. We may refer the consumer to another appropriate organisation or agency.
- When the consumer has not been able to contact you to raise their complaint we may refer their enquiry to you and ask that you contact them to resolve the matter. Where this does not resolve the matter we will consider using conciliation (see below) if the consumer contacts us again.
Generally the first contact with us.
- We record basic details of the complaint from the consumer and refer the complaint back to you.
- You must contact the consumer and resolve the complaint within:
- 20 business days if the consumer discovered the problem they are complaining about more than two years ago;
- 10 business days in all other circumstances.
- If we consider the complaint to be urgent, you must contact the consumer within two business days. We decide if a complaint is urgent on a case-by-case basis, examples may include individuals with health or safety issues or who are having problems getting their landline connected, or businesses that are losing revenue due to faulty services.
- If a complaint has not been resolved after referral we will conciliate it (although in some cases we may conciliate a matter without first referring it).
- We will speak to the consumer and obtain as much information about their complaint, what they are seeking to reach a resolution and send you a detailed email so that you are aware of all the issues before you contact your customer.
- You have 10 business days to call the consumer, discuss the complaint, and explain the resolution to us in writing or by phone. We will call the consumer to confirm they are satisfied with the resolution offered by you. If they are, both parties will receive a letter from us confirming the agreed resolution.
- If the consumer is not satisfied with the resolution offered by you, we become more actively involved with you and the consumer to assist you to work towards a resolution.
- You will receive a call and a letter from us once the complaint is resolved.
- May require extensive negotiation and investigation.
- You respond to us in writing within 20 business days. We analyse information and explore further options for resolution with both parties.
- Both parties receive a call and a letter from us once the complaint is resolved.
- Usually about complex issues.
- The timeframe for you to respond varies with each complaint.
- If all other methods do not resolve the complaint and you have not acted fairly and reasonably, the Ombudsman may make a decision or recommendation.
No further investigation
We may stop handling a complaint at any time if it is fair and reasonable to do so, including where we think you have made a fair offer to resolve the complaint and the consumer has not accepted the offer. The consumer can ask for a review of this decision.