Once again, Australian telcos find themselves being criticised by
regulators and consumer groups for their poor performance.
time over poor
of bills and overcharging
on “freecall” numbers.
frustrating thing with all of these complaint is they are nothing
new, as shown by an
earlier version of this article in 2007.
the problems with phone and Internet companies remain and many customers,
both consumers and businesses, are forced to go through the time wasting
dance of dealing with call centres, complex contracts and often finishing
with consumer protection organisations like the Telecommunications
Industry Ombudsman or other state and Federal authorities.
there are ways of reducing the problems and improving your chances
of resolving issues quickly and on your terms;
The first step when you
realise you have a problem is to call them. This is the quickest and
easiest way to resolve things. If you can solve the problem at this
point, you will save a lot of time, money and frustration.
When dealing with any call
centre, there are a few important things to remember. You must remain
polite, you must never make threats and you should note everything.
A lot of this can be easier said than done.
Calm and Polite
At every stage of the process you must stay cool and polite. Do not
lose your temper and do not abuse people.
you find the person you are dealing with is rude or provocative, or
if find your blood pressure rising, then politely finish the conversation
and call back later later.
From the first call, you must take
notes. Every time you speak to the call centre you must note the date
and time you have made the call, the time they answered, the name
of the person you spoke to, what you discussed, what was agreed (if
anything) and the time the call ended. Any important discussions should
be confirmed in writing.
Don't Make Threats
Making threats will hurt your argument and draw the process out. Threatening
people only makes their attitude harder or locks them into a position
where they cannot negotiate with you.
the ISP, complaining to the TIO, going to the media or calling consumer
affairs are all options you have available should everything else
fail but the aim is to settle the matter quickly and amicably without
going to the time and expense of complaining to other authorities.
Do it in writing
is important to confirm everything in writing. All too often people
believe a matter has been settled only to find it is still a problem
months or years later.
up any important conversations with a letter confirming the details
including the time, date and person you discussed the issue with.
This is very important if you have reached an agreement settling a
the details and the agreement in a letter sent by registered post
to the organisation, any faxes or emails should be followed up by
a letter. Any emails about the matter should be printed out.
the claims of a paperless world, the only thing that really matters
in disputes is what is written on paper. Make sure you keep the full
story in writing and this includes printing out emails and web pages.
Follow the ISPs complaint procedure
may need to start a formal complaint within the organisation’s internal
complaints or appeals procedures, the ISP or telco support line should
be able to tell you how to do this.
smaller ISPs there may not be any formal procedures. A letter to the
senior management may be necessary to get the right person to respond.
the ISPs management
the ISP doesn't have a formal dispute procedure, or if it doesn't
respond, forward your complaints with copies of all the supporting
documentation to the directors and Managing Director or CEO of the
directors and senior managers hate this and will make their displeasure
known to the people responsible within their organisation.
be polite and respectful, make no threats and express your desire
to settle the matter quickly and amicably.
Pay the bill
the bill Some ISPs have a habit of calling in the debt collectors
at an early stage. This complicates the matter and can also affect
your credit record. Generally, it’s a good idea to pay any disputed
amounts and then continue arguing about the facts of the dispute.
you have direct debits with the ISP it may be necessary to stop these
to avoid further disputed debits to your account.
to both the ISP and your bank with a cover letter informing them the
direct debit has stopped. If you do this, make sure you are within
your contract and you have a backup Internet service as the ISP will
almost certainly stop your service immediately.
Complain to the TIO
you are still unhappy, complain to the
Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. They like you fill in their
web complaint form but they will accept phone calls and written complaints.
in mind they will not help you unless you’ve already tried to resolve
the problem with the provider, they also won’t assist if you’ve complained
to other organisations which is another reason not to make threats
earlier in the process.
Despite all of
the above, it's still possible not to have resolved the problem with
an ISP. The next step is to complain to your state
consumer affairs department or the ACCC.
You can also
seek advice from your solicitor or local community
The aim with
any dispute is to settle it quickly and amicably. The important thing
is to contact your provider quickly if you have a problem.
providers can be difficult to deal with but with a combination of
patience, persistence, good record keeping and a cool temper, you
can resolve most problems on your terms.