This is a joint submission from Consumer Action Law Centre, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), Financial
Counselling Australia and WEstjustice.
Our submission draws on feedback and case studies received from residential and small business consumers, consumer advocates, financial counsellors, and community organisations that have experience dealing with TIO matters.
Phone and internet complaints can be extremely challenging for consumers to resolve. The technical nature and the potential service-level and financial impact of an issue can create significant inconvenience and distress for consumer complainants. The lack of robust customer service rules placed upon the telecommunications industry means that consumers can spend weeks or months attempting to resolve an issue before it is identified as a complaint by their telecommunications retail service provider (RSP). Phone and internet complaint fatigue is commonplace. This is why access to external dispute resolution (EDR) is vital. Indeed, in the 2020-21 financial year, residential and small business consumers made 119,400 complaints to the TIO.
We support the vital role that the TIO performs when dealing with escalated phone and internet complaints. The TIO’s public reporting on complaints and its commentary on phone and internet consumer issues create a level of transparency surrounding the telecommunications industry’s performance. In recent years, the TIO has made significant investments into improving its processes and engaging with consumers and with its members, for which it should be commended.
Given the TIO’s fundamental role, and the importance of robust EDR arrangements in the telecommunications sector, we have identified areas where we feel the TIO could improve its activities and processes to ensure it consistently exceeds the Australian Government’s Benchmarks for Industry-Based Customer Dispute Resolution.
Read our recommendations in the full submission (PDF).Joint Consumer Submission to Independent TIO Review