Our Complaints Handling Policy provides information and assistance on what you can expect from us when dealing with a complaint, how to make a complaint, and how to monitor the progress of a complaint.
What is a complaint?
A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction made to us in relation to our products and services or the way we’ve handled a complaint.
An initial call to report a fault or service difficulty is not a complaint. However, if you advise that you want this initial call treated as a complaint, we will treat it as a complaint.
Southern Phone Company's complaint handling process is free of charge.
Our commitment to complaint handling
Southern Phone is committed to efficient, fair and courteous resolution of complaints at all times. We aim to resolve complaints at first point of contact. Our customer service representatives have the training and authority to resolve most of these complaints on your first call.
The complaint process can be accessed via our website www.southernphone.com.au/About-US/Policies/Complaints-Handling-Policy.You can contact us to obtain information regarding the process and we will furnish this to you by email or letter as per your request.
Southern Phone will never disconnect a service for the sole reason that you have made a complaint, we have been unable to resolve the complaint or you have sought external dispute resolution.
Lodging a complaint
You have a right to make a complaint. We will propose a resolution and this must be accepted by you before we proceed to implementation of the resolution.
We will resolve complaints in an objective, efficient and fair manner. Complaints may be lodged:
By phone on 13 14 64 (our call centre is open 8am – 8pm AEST Monday – Sunday)
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax to 1300 763 744
Mail to Southern Phone, 6 Page Street, Moruya, NSW 2537
Southern Phone website via www.southernphone.com.au/Forms/Contact-Us
We will help you to formulate, make and progress your complaint and will endeavour to assist customers with special needs, disabilities, those suffering hardships and those from non-English speaking backgrounds. An authorised representative or an advocate may make a complaint on behalf of you.
Receipt and acknowledgement of a complaint
We will acknowledge the receipt of a complaint:
(a) immediately where the complaint is made in person or by telephone
(b) within 2 working days of receipt where the complaint is made by email, through our website, by post or by telephone where a message is recorded without direct contact with a member of our staff.
Your account number will be your complaint reference number.
We will attempt to resolve complaints in an objective, efficient and fair manner.
Assessment and investigation of your complaint
We aim to resolve a complaint at first point of contact wherever possible. If our customer service agents or managers are not able to resolve your complaint and the matter requires further investigation or if you request your complaint be escalated, we will refer you to our Resolution Team.
Our Resolutions Team will aim to contact you within 2 working days of your complaint being allocated to a dedicated case manager. Your case manager has access to all areas of the business and will utilise them to resolve your complaint. Your case manager will be in contact with you and provide you with their direct contact details and aim to resolve your complaint within 15 days of the complaint being made or within such other time frames as agreed with you.
If we are unable to resolve your complaint within the timeframe specified, we will advise you of the situation including the reasons for the delay and the estimated timeframe for completion of the resolution. If the anticipated delay is greater than 10 workings days and is not the result of a declared mass service disruption, we will advise you of your options for external resolution, including the TIO (see ‘External escalation of complaints’ in this document).
If you are not satisfied with the timeframes we outline for the management of your complaint or if you seek to have the complaint classified as urgent, we will advise you within 5 working days of our internal prioritisation and escalation process, and your options for external resolution of the complaint, including the TIO (see ‘External escalation of complaints’ in this document).
We ask that any outstanding amounts on your bill that you are not disputing be paid.
We will not take legal action against you, nor will we cancel your service while your complaint is being investigated internally or by the TIO. After the resolution is determined, we will allow 7 working days for you to settle your outstanding amounts.
Handling of urgent complaints
Southern Phone will deal with majority of complaints in the order they are received. However there are certain complaint types that are always considered urgent. These are where:
(a) the complaint is made by a customer who has applied for or has been accepted as being in Financial Hardship under our Financial Hardship policy www.southernphone.com.au/About-US/Policies/Financial-Hardship-Policy and where the subject matter of the complaint can reasonably be presumed to directly contribute to or aggravate the Financial Hardship of that customer; or
(b) the disconnection of a service is imminent or has occurred and where due process has not been followed; or
(c) we are made aware of a life threatening condition or situation.
Where a complaint is identified as urgent, we will seek to resolve the complaint within 2 working days of receiving it.
If we are unable to resolve your complaint within the timeframe specified, we will advise you of the situation including the reasons for the delay and the timeframe for completion of the resolution.
If the anticipated delay is greater than 2 workings days and is not the result of a declared mass service disruption, we will advise you of your options for external resolution of the complaint, including the TIO (see ‘External escalation of complaints’ in this document).
If you are not satisfied with the timeframes we outline for the management of your complaint or if you seek to have the complaint classified as urgent, we will advise you within 2 working days of our internal prioritisation and escalation process, and your options for external resolution of the complaint, including the TIO (see ‘External escalation of complaints’ in this document).
Monitoring your complaint
Southern Phone will keep you updated and informed on your complaint. You can also contact us to check the progress of your complaint. Your account number is the means by which we will track your complaint and retrieve information for you.
Communicating a resolution of your complaint
We will complete all necessary actions to deliver the resolution offered and accepted by you within 10 working days of your acceptance of that resolution, unless otherwise agreed with you, or the completion of this is contingent on actions that you have not completed.
Usually we will communicate this via telephone. If you request, we are will provide a written confirmation within 5 working days of your request .
Closing your complaint
We will not close your complaint without your agreement, unless we are unable to contact you after making multiple attempts to do so.
If we cannot contact you to discuss the complaint or advise of a proposed resolution, we will write to you at the last known address or email with details of our attempts to contact and invite you to contact us within 10 working days. If no contact is made the complaint will be closed.
Frivolous or vexatious complaints
If after careful consideration and appropriate internal escalation, we conclude a complaint is frivolous or vexatious and we can do nothing more to assist you, we will inform you in writing of the reasons for the decision within 5 working days. We will also advise options for external resolution of the complaint, including the TIO (see ‘External escalation of complaints’ in this document.
We will then not accept any further complaints from you on the same or similar issues other than through an external dispute resolution process.
External escalation of complaints
There are external channels for escalation if you are dissatisfied with the way your complaint is handled or the proposed resolution we put forward. The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) can be contacted on 1800 062 058 (Free from landlines, standard rates apply for calls from mobiles) or via the website https://www.tio.com.au/
Record keeping and classification of complaints
Complaints will be recorded and analysed to ensure that our complaint management processes comply with this policy
This includes a process for classifying complaints based on issues experienced and the type of service you have purchased being: Mobile, Mobile Broadband, Internet and or Voice. A further classification is recorded to ensure that we address the main cause of your complaint and this can include customer experience, faults, connection delays, billing issues, equipment issues, contract disputes and collections activity.
Southern Phone's complaint handling procedures and systems are periodically reviewed to ensure optimum effectiveness and highlight any need for improvement.
This policy has been developed by Southern Phone in accordance with the Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints Handling) Industry Standard 2018.