The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) helps consumers and small businesses with unresolved complaints about their phone or internet service. The TIO Scheme plays a crucial role in this process.
If you have a problem with your provider, the first port of call should always be the provider. If your complaint isn’t addressed or properly resolved by the company’s customer support team, the next step is to then utilise the provider’s complaints process; assuming it has one (and it should).
If that should also fail to result a suitable resolution in a timely manner, this is where the TIO can go into bat on your behalf to move things along. But before heading to the TIO, bear in mind there’s a little more leeway at the moment for addressing non-urgent issues given the challenges posed by COVID-19.
The TIO has a pretty good track record – it says 90% of complaints that wind up in the TIO’s arena are resolved within 10 business days.
The TIO Scheme
On the provider side of things, the TIO Scheme helps its members improve their service and reduce the number of complaints they receive through various best-practice guidelines, resources and insights.
Joining the TIO Scheme isn’t optional. Sections 128 and 132 of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Services Standards) Act 1999 stipulates all communications carriers and eligible carriage service providers are legally required to join and comply with the Scheme.
An eligible carriage service provider is one supplying:
- a standard telephone service to residential business customers, or
- a public mobile telecommunications service, or
- a service that provides internet access, or
- a carriage service intermediary that arranges supply of any of the services above
If the TIO becomes aware of a provider that should be a member but isn’t, it contacts the organisation to give them a prod to sign up. If that doesn’t work the situation is then referred to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which then prods harder and with a bigger stick.
Just recently, the ACMA had to step in to coax several companies to join the Scheme.
“The ACMA encourages people who are thinking of switching providers to check the provider is a member of the TIO Scheme,” says the Authority. “This way, consumers can access the services provided by the TIO, if needed.”