ACCAN Customer Service Project (25 August 2009)

4.4. Compensation / remedies for breaches

There was surprisingly little coverage of compensation or remedies for breaches in the service charters reviewed in this study.

AAMI offer a small ($30) penalty payment for breaches of specific charter promises. AAMI notes that in the first ten years of operation the company paid more than 6,000 penalty payments to customers for breaches of its AAMI Customer Charter promises, totalling more than $200,000.[20]

V-Line offers complimentary travel tickets if they breach certain provisions of their service charter (at the complete discretion of the company).

Australia Post and the telecommunications and energy sector service charters all noted that compensation might be available to consumers for breaches of the legislated customer service guarantee, but they generally offered no additional compensation for breaches of the service charters. One organisation – CitiPower – offers double the legislated customer service guarantee, as a method of building consumer confidence.

One innovative remedy noted in the study was the promise by AAMI to pay a donation of $25,000 to an environmental charity if they breach Clause 18 of their service charter. This clause promises that ‘AAMI will report on its environmental initiatives annually, as it promises to reduce its carbon footprint’. So perhaps it is not a very difficult promise to keep.

In the absence of more widespread compensation arrangements and penalties it may be difficult for customer service charters to gain traction with either consumers or front-line staff.

[20] AAMI Coporate Communications, Customer charters should pay cash, not lip service, media release, AAMI, December 2005, <>.