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ComReg announces new requirements for providers dealing with complaints

Providers must have these changes in place by the end of the year.

Late last year, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) opened a consultation on providers’ codes of practice for complaints - and this week, it announced its decisions in relation to this.

What should I expect from my provider if I make a complaint?

The new measures mean that - on top of the requirements already in place - providers must:

1. Set out - in their Code of Practice - all of the channels customers can use to make a complaint.

2. Have, as the first point of contact for the complaint:

  • a number that is free to call - be it a Freephone (1800) number, a 19XX short number, or a geographic or mobile number;
  • an address; and
  • a way to get in touch electronically - with an e-mail address and/or a complaints online for - which allows customers to attach a document, doesn’t have a word character restriction, and provides the customer with a copy of the complaint.

3. Not transfer the customer to a telephone line or any other service that costs more than the cost of a call to a geographic or mobile number.

4. Acknowledge the complaint within 2 working days with the following information:

  • Confirmation that the complaint is recorded;
  • A timeframe for response and resolution of the complaint;
  • A unique reference number to identify and track the complaint;
  • Contact details the consumer can use to contact the provider;
  • Next steps in the process; and
  • A link to the Code of Practice.

5. Respond to complaints within 10 working days - or provide a timeframe for resolution if it can’t be fully resolved within this time - along with details of the provider’s escalation process and contact details for ComReg.

6. Record complaints received - at a minimum including the customer’s name and contact details, the date of the complaint and all communications in relation to the complaint.

7. Specify - in their Code of Practice - how customers can avail of refunds.

Where can I find the Code of Practice?

ComReg has set out that providers have to publish their Code of Practice on their website, with a direct link to it clearly displayed on the homepage, and on any pages that relate to dealing with complaints.

In addition to this, the provider’s website search must be set up so that the Code of Practice is returned when customers search for ‘code of practice’, ‘complaint’, ‘how to make a complaint’ or ‘how to complain’.

Also, if a customer asks for a copy of the Code of Practice in another format - for accessibility reasons, for example - the provider has to supply this.

When will these new requirements be in place?

ComReg has said that some providers may have already put in place some aspects of these measures, but any that are outstanding have to be implemented by 31 December 2017.

Hopefully the requirements will mean it will be more straightforward or consumers if they’re having any issues with their provider or service.

However, if the complaint is not resolved at ten working days, ComReg does operate a consumer line, which consumers can contact to have ComReg escalate the complaint on their behalf. This line can be reached on 01 8049668, or customers can email consumerline@comreg.ie.

Visit ComReg’s website for more info.