Consumer Care – Our Role

Complaints and Queries

Our Consumer Care Team provides information to consumers who have a query and need information. We aim to provide consumers with the relevant information so that they can deal with their service providers. We also aim to ensure that service providers have adequate procedures in place to address any of their customer issues (not all issues are complaints).

The Team can help consumers who wish to raise a complaint about their telecoms service, a premium rate service or a postal service.

ComReg cannot act on your complaint until you have raised it with your service provider and their complaint handling process is completed. This is because the main responsibility for resolving a complaint lies with your service provider, as they have the direct relationship with you.

However, if your complaint fails, we can then contact the service provider directly, put forward your complaint and seek a response.

Please note, if your query becomes a complaint, in order to escalate the complaint with the service provider, ComReg will share the relevant complaint related personal details with that service provider.

The Consumer Care Team also regularly examines trends in consumer complaints and can raise any persistent problems with the service provider in question.

Service Provider Codes of Practice and Complaints Procedures

The Universal Service Regulations state that a service provider must have a code of practice for handling complaints.  You should be able to get a copy of your service provider’s complaints code of practice on their website or by calling their helpline.

A service provider’s code of practice should provide for the following:

• the first point of contact for complainants;
• a means of recording complaints;
• a time frame within which the service provider concerned shall respond to complaints;
• procedures for resolving complaints including how to escalate your complaint;
• appropriate cases where reimbursement of payments, and payments in settlement of losses incurred, will be made;
• the retention of records of complaints (for a period of not less than one year following the resolution of the complaint).

Complaining to your service provider

You should always first contact your service provider if you have a complaint or a query. Each service provider’s complaints code of practice sets out the procedure customers need to follow for making a complaint and the level of service that a customer can expect. Service providers should provide a copy of their complaints code of practice to any customer who requests a copy. Most service providers have a copy available on their website.

When you make a complaint to your provider

• Be clear about the problem and give details.
• Give the service provider a chance to resolve your complaint.
• Keep a record of the date and time that you make your complaint.
• Ask for a reference number for your complaint.
• Make a note of any promises that were made by the service provider.

If you are not satisfied with the initial response to your complaint, you can request that the complaint is escalated to a higher level within the organisation, again how you do this should be outlined in the “code”.

What happens if you don’t feel your complaint is being handled properly?

If you are not happy with how your complaint was handled, you can ask for your complaint to be ‘escalated’. This means your complaint is brought to a higher level within the organisation.
Generally, this means that your complaint is passed to the service provider’s ‘second-line support teams’. This might be a team leader or manager who will help with more complicated consumer complaints.

What happens if your service provider doesn’t resolve your complaint?

If you still feel that your complaint has not been dealt with properly after using your service provider’s complaint procedures, ComReg may be able to help you. We can seek to resolve disputes between consumers and service providers where the service providers own dispute resolution process has broken down.

Who resolves the complaint?

When we refer your complaint to the service provider, it is up to the service provider to keep in contact with you to resolve the issue. We will keep track of the progress of your complaint and when the service provider lets us know that the issue is resolved, we will examine the resolution and check to see that your issues have been dealt with.

How long should it take to resolve my complaint?

Normally, service providers aim to resolve complaints within 10 working days. Please note, if your complaint is more complicated it may take a longer period of time to resolve.

Once we have a response from the service provider which addresses the consumer’s issues, the case is closed. The consumer may consider seeking legal advice if they are not satisfied with their service provider’s response.

Before you make a complaint to us

Before you bring your complaint to ComReg, you should check the following:

• Have you already taken your complaint to the service provider? If not, please contact your service provider, outline the matter to them and inform them that you wish to lodge a complaint.
• Are you making your complaint in time? The problem you are complaining about must have occurred:
– for communications issues, within the previous year; and
– for premium rate service issues, within 3 months of making the call or unsubscribing from a subscription service.
• Are you the person affected by the problem? Generally, you should be the person who has experienced the service problem (either the account holder for communications and premium rate complaints). In some cases, however, ComReg will work with other people or organisations.
• Did you receive a complaint reference number from your service provider?

Information you should give us about your complaint

• Your contact details including a mobile telephone number, if possible, for phone complaints and a full postal address for postal complaints;
• The name on the account and account number (if applicable);
• The premium rate number, if premium rate services are what your complaint is about;
• Details of the complaint, including the complaint reference number from your service provider;
• Details about previous dealings with your service provider;
• A clear statement of what you hope to achieve by raising your complaint.