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Southern Phone Complaints Handling Policy

At Southern Phone we strive for progress and have a relentless determination to make things better for our customer. But we recognise that we don’t always get everything right and when we don’t, our dedicated staff will work with you to resolve any complaints you may have about our products or services.

This policy outlines how you can make a complaint and what to expect from Southern Phone throughout the process. We won’t ever charge you, disconnect your service or modify our service commitment to you for making a complaint.

Making a complaint

As our customer, you have the right to make a complaint if you are dissatisfied with any of our products and services, or how we’ve handled your complaint. If we are uncertain when you contact us whether you want to have your concern treated as a complaint, we will clarify this with you.

You can lodge a complaint in one of the following ways:

·       By phone on 13 14 64 (8am – 6pm AEST)

·       Email to escalations@southernphone.net.au

·       Make a complaint using our complaint form

·       Written complaints to Southern Phone, PO BOX 125, Bendigo Central VIC 3552

We’ll acknowledge receipt of the complaint immediately (if you lodge your complaint by phone) or in writing within 2 working days of receiving your complaint (if you lodge your complaint using the other methods described above).

We will help you to formulate, make and progress your complaint. We also have staff who can assist you if you have any special needs, disabilities, or are from non-English speaking backgrounds and may need an interpreter. With your permission, we’ll also work with an authorised representative or advocate who can make the complaint on your behalf.

Urgent complaints

Although we try to resolve all complaints in a timely manner, we will prioritise urgent complaint types, such as:

−    Customers who fall under our Payment Assistance Policy where the complaint matter may directly contribute to the customer’s financial hardship; or

−    Where disconnection of the service is imminent or has occurred and we have not followed the correct process.

We aim to resolve urgent complaints within 2 working days of receiving your complaint. If we can’t do so in that time, we’ll let you know why and advise a new timeframe. In doing so, if we expect that a delay will be longer than 10 working days, we’ll also advise you of your external dispute resolution options.

Resolving your complaint

At Southern Phone we deal with complaints as they’re received. Most times we’re able to resolve your complaint when it’s received (on the spot if you’re calling in) however this isn’t always possible, and we may need to investigate further or escalate it taking into account the seriousness of the complaint.

We will contact you and propose a resolution of your complaint. Should you wish to accept our resolution, we’ll aim to implement that resolution within 10 working days of receiving your acceptance.

If we expect a delay of more than 15 working days to resolve your complaint, we’ll let you know why and advise a new timeframe.

In trying to resolve your complaint, we may ask you for more details. Any information you provide us is handled in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 and the Southern Phone Privacy Policy. We can send you a copy of our Complaints Handling Policy and Privacy Policy via email or post if you request them.

Where your complaint is related to billing, we ask that any outstanding amounts not disputed are paid and we aim to resolve your complaint before the end of the next billing period.

Monitoring the progress of your complaint

We will regularly update you on the progress of your complaint. You can also contact us to check on its progress. Your Southern Phone account number is your complaint reference number. If you have been assigned a dedicated case manager, they will give you their direct contact details.

When we’ve finished our investigation and come up with a resolution, we’ll advise you as soon as possible, usually by phone. If you request, we can provide you with a copy of the proposed resolution in writing within 5 working days.

Once you accept our proposed resolution, we will promptly do everything necessary to deliver on our offer to you (within 2 working days for urgent complaints and otherwise within 10 working days, unless otherwise agreed with you). If the resolution relies on an action that you have not yet completed, then the resolution may be delayed.

Managing your complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling or resolution of your complaint or have reasonable grounds for us to treat your complaint as urgent, we will inform you about our internal prioritisation and internal escalation, as well as any external resolution options available to you.

If you have requested us to prioritise or escalate your complaint, we will assess your request and, where appropriate, prioritise or escalate your complaint within 5 working days of receiving your request. We will prioritise your complaint, taking into account the type, seriousness and urgency of your complaint, and your personal circumstances. If we agree to escalate your complaint, we will assign a senior case manager to handle your complaint and expedite the resolution process.

Frivolous or vexatious complaints

If after exhausting all possible avenues for resolution and after careful consideration, we determine that we can’t assist you further and conclude that your behaviour or claim is frivolous or vexatious, we’ll inform you of our decision and the reasons within 5 working days of making such a decision. We’ll also advise you of your options for external dispute resolution.

If we make this determination, in future, Southern Phone won’t accept a complaint from you relating to the same matter except as part of an external dispute resolution process.

Closing your complaint

We won’t close your complaint unless you expressly agree to it, or we’ve decided it is a frivolous or vexatious complaint, or when we can’t contact you after multiple attempts. If we can’t reach you, we’ll write to you that we haven’t been able to contact you and invite you to contact us within 10 working days. If we don’t hear from you, we’ll close your complaint.

Also, if you’re not satisfied with our decision, you can request for it to be escalated and reviewed internally by Southern Phone.

We won’t take legal action or cancel your service while your complaint is being reviewed and we’ll allow 7 working days after closure to finalise any outstanding amounts. If referred to the TIO we won’t take any action while they conduct their investigation.

External escalation of complaints

We believe that we can resolve most matters for you however, if you aren’t satisfied with how we’ve handled your complaint or our proposed resolution, you may wish to seek further assistance from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) on 1800 062 058 or via https://www.tio.com.au/. The TIO will expect that you have attempted to resolve the complaint first with us.

For broader telecommunications issues that may be outside the jurisdiction of the TIO, you can also contact the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), or for trade practices and fair trading issues, you can contact the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) or your relevant State or Territory consumer regulatory body (for example NSW Fair Trading or Consumer Affairs Victoria).

Please note that we may provide information to the TIO or regulators such as the ACMA in accordance with our obligations under the Privacy Act 1988 and the Southern Phone Privacy Policy.