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Classification and Escalation

Purpose

Introduction

1.0 Classification and registration at first contact

2.0 Giving the provider a chance to consider the matter

3.0 Standard Escalation

4.0 Exceptions to Standard Classification and Escalation

5.0 Deciding to stop handling a Complaint

6.0 Provider's right to Request Reclassification


Purpose

The purpose of these Procedures is to:

  • provide a structure for classifying and resolving matters in a fair, independent, economical, informal and fast way
  • set expectations for consumers and providers about reasonable timeframes for the resolution of Complaints, and
  • ensure we have suitable resources for the efficient and effective management of Complaints at all levels of complexity.


Introduction

We classify a matter we receive as an Enquiry, or a Complaint at one of four classification Levels.

Unresolved matters can be escalated through the classification Levels until the matter is resolved.

Complaints

A Complaint is an expression of grievance or dissatisfaction about a matter within our jurisdiction that the provider concerned has had a chance to consider. Matters within our jurisdiction are set out in the TIO Terms of Reference.

Where a Complaint remains unresolved we may escalate it to a higher Level until it is resolved, or until our involvement is no longer appropriate.

When a Complaint is escalated the provider will be given a reasonable chance to resolve it.

Level 1

A Level 1 Complaint is referred to a contact nominated by the provider to give the provider another chance to resolve the Complaint.

Level 2

A Level 2 Complaint is conciliated by us to facilitate a resolution agreed to by the consumer and provider.

Level 3

A Level 3 Complaint is investigated by us to establish the facts of the Complaint and assess what is a fair and reasonable resolution.

If the amount in dispute is less than $1,200 and the matter is not complex we may decide the resolution of the Complaint if the consumer and provider cannot agree on a resolution.

Level 4

A Level  4 Complaint is investigated by us to further establish the facts of the Complaint and assess what is a fair and reasonable resolution.

A Level 4 investigation usually follows a Level 3 investigation where the Complaint was not resolved after investigation at Level 3, and involves:

  • disputed amounts of over $1,200, or 
  • complex matters.

We will decide the resolution of the Complaint if the consumer and provider cannot agree on a resolution.

Enquiries

An Enquiry is a matter that is not classified as a Complaint, including where:

  • the consumer
    • chooses to remain anonymous 
    • is requesting information only 
    • is expressing a grievance but has not given the provider a chance to consider the matter, or
    • is making the complaint for an unacceptable reason, for example only to annoy the provider, or
  • the matter 
    • is resolved
    • is outside our jurisdiction 
    • could be raised with another organisation able to handle it more effectively or conveniently than we can, or  
    • dealt with by a court or tribunal, or by a telecommunications or consumer regulator.

We take no formal role in an Enquiry, and aim to most effectively help the consumer.

In some cases we may treat an Enquiry as an Enquiry (Referral). An Enquiry (Referral) is a type of Enquiry where it is not yet appropriate to register a Complaint because it appears the consumer discovered the problem they are complaining about less than 2 years before contacting us, but has not given the provider a chance to consider the matter.

Matters within our jurisdiction are set out in the TIO Terms of Reference

Where an Enquiry (Referral) remains unresolved we may classify it as a Complaint at Level 2.

Objections

An owner or occupier of land has limited rights of Objection to proposed land access activity by a carrier. An Objection is classified as a Level 4 (Land Access) Complaint.


1.0 Classification and registration at first contact

1.1

A matter we receive at first contact is classified either as an Enquiry, or a Complaint at one of three classification Levels (Level 1, 2, or 4).

1.2

We generally register an Enquiry or Complaint in the name of the provider who is billing the consumer for the service relating to the Enquiry or Complaint.

1.3

If the Enquiry or Complaint involves the transfer or connection of a service, in most circumstances we will register it in the name of the provider from whom the consumer has requested the service.

1.4

In exceptional circumstances, or when the matter concerns a carrier undertaking land access activity, we can register an Enquiry or Complaint in the name of a provider who is neither billing the consumer, nor gaining their service.

Examples include, but are not limited to, where:

  • the consumer is a small business receiving telemarketing from a third party provider, after it has requested that the telemarketing stop, or
  • a third party provider has not removed internet codes that are preventing the connection of a new internet service.

1.5 First questions

1.5.1    

When we receive a matter we ask the consumer:

  • when they discovered the problem they are complaining about, and
  • if they have given the provider a chance to consider the matter (see 2.0 below).

1.5.2   

When the consumer discovered the problem they are complaining about between 2 to 6 years before contacting us, we take reasonable steps to identify:

  • the reasons for the delay in bringing the matter to the TIO, and
  • any significant impact the delay may have on the provider.

1.6 Enquiry

1.6.1    

When we consider:

  • we do not have jurisdiction to handle the matter
  • we need more information from the consumer before the matter can be classified as a Complaint, or
  • the consumer discovered the problem they are complaining about:
    • over 6 years before contacting us
    • between 2 to 6 years before contacting us and has not given the provider a chance to consider the matter (see 2.0 below), or
    • between 2 to 6 years before contacting us, and there is no reasonable cause for the delay, or the delay will have a significant impact on the provider

we will register an Enquiry.

1.6.2    

We will:

  • explain to the consumer the decision to classify a matter as an Enquiry
  • invite the consumer to return to us with more information if it would be relevant to registering a Complaint, and indicate what information might be relevant
  • advise the consumer to contact the provider if relevant, and
  • refer the consumer to another organisation if it is in a better position to help.

1.7 Enquiry (Referral)

1.7.1    

When we consider:

  • we have jurisdiction to handle the matter, and
  • the consumer discovered the problem they are complaining about less than 2 years before contacting us,

but it appears the consumer has not given the provider a chance to consider the matter (see 2.0 below) we will register an Enquiry (Referral).

1.7.2    

We will refer the Enquiry (Referral) to the provider in accordance with TIO Complaint Handling Procedures - Standard Resolution Methods and Outcomes.

1.8 Complaint

1.8.1    

When we consider:

  • we have jurisdiction to handle the matter
  • the consumer discovered the problem they are complaining about:
    • less than 2 years before contacting us, or
    • between 2 to 6 years before contacting us, there is no unreasonable cause for the delay, and the delay will have no significant impact on the provider, and
  • the consumer has given the provider a chance to consider the matter (see 2.0 below)

we will register a Complaint.

1.8.2    

We will refer the Complaint to the provider in accordance with TIO Complaint Handling Procedures - Standard Resolution Methods and Outcomes.

1.9 Urgent Enquiry (Referral) and Complaint

1.9.1    

Based on the circumstances of the matter, and in accordance with these procedures we may classify an Enquiry (Referral) or Complaint as Urgent.

1.9.2   

If we classify an Enquiry (Referral) or Complaint as Urgent, we will advise the provider when the Enquiry (Referral) or Complaint is referred, and explain any changes to standard procedure that may apply, in accordance with TIO Complaint Handling Procedures - Standard Resolution Methods and Outcomes.

1.10 Objections and Complaints about carriers engaging in land access activity

1.10.1 

If the matter brought to us at first contact is an Objection or Complaint about:

  • the way a carrier is engaging in land entry, installation of a low-impact facility, or maintenance activity
  • damage to a carrier’s network, or
  • damage to a consumer’s property or land as a result of a carrier’s land entry, installation of a low impact facility, or maintenance activity,

we will decide if our involvement is appropriate.

1.10.2  

Where our involvement is appropriate, we will classify the matter as an Objection or Complaint according to these procedures.

1.10.3  

We will handle the Objection or Complaint in accordance with TIO Complaint Handling Procedures - Objections to Land Access Activity.

1.10.4  

If we decide that our involvement is not appropriate, for example if the matter has not been brought to us by the provider or the owner or occupier of the land, we will register an Enquiry and explain our decision to the appropriate party.


2.0 Giving the provider a chance to consider the matter

2.1

The provider has been given a chance to consider the matter when the consumer has tried to raise and resolve the matter with the provider. This includes when the consumer has:

  • spoken to a representative of the provider or its agent to raise and resolve the matter, and the matter remains unresolved
  • received a response from the provider or its agent to a voicemail message, support ticket, email, fax, or letter, and the matter remains unresolved, or
  • not received a response within 2 business days from the provider or its agent to a voicemail message, support ticket, email, fax, or letter.

2.2

The consumer has not given the provider a chance to consider the matter when he or she has:

  • not contacted the provider or its agent about the matter at all
  • been unable to speak to a representative of the provider or its agent by telephone or leave a voicemail message, or
  • left a voicemail message, lodged a support ticket, sent an email, fax, or letter to the provider or its agent but not allowed 2 business days for a response.

2.3

When assessing if the provider has been given the chance to consider the matter, we will also have regard to whether:

  • the time allowed by the consumer meets standards of good practice, for example, performance standards under the Customer Service Guarantee Standard or timeframes in the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code
  • a reasonable person would consider the timeframe to be appropriate given the circumstances, or  
  • based on the circumstances, a faster response than what would otherwise be expected should have been given. 

2.4

When the consumer could not speak to the provider or its agent because the provider does not have appropriate call centre resources to deal with incoming calls we may consider that the provider has been given a chance to consider the matter.


3.0 Standard Escalation

3.1

When, after further contact from the consumer, we decide that the criteria for escalation have been met, we may escalate an Enquiry, Enquiry (Referral), or Complaint.

3.2

We will notify the provider when we escalate an Enquiry (Referral) or Complaint to a higher Level and explain the reason for this escalation.

3.3

We will make our best efforts to not escalate a Level 2 Complaint to Level 3 or a Level 3 Complaint to Level 4 for non-response to the TIO without having first reminded the provider that a response is required.

3.4

When a Complaint is escalated the provider is given a reasonable chance to resolve it according to these procedures.

3.5

If we decide to stop handling a Complaint we will explain this decision.

3.6 Escalation of an Enquiry

3.6.1

An Enquiry can be escalated to a Complaint for a number of reasons, including where:

  • circumstances have changed, and the matter is now within our jurisdiction
  • our initial assessment in considering the matter to be out of jurisdiction has changed in light of further information
  • the consumer provides information or has taken an action that we had requested before the matter could be classified as a Complaint, or
  • a third party provider who is preventing a transfer of service has been given a chance to resolve the matter as a courtesy, but has not done so.

3.6.2

When assessing if an Enquiry could be escalated to a Complaint, we will have regard to various factors, including any of the following:

  • our jurisdiction
  • the circumstances surrounding the Enquiry
  • if the consumer is a business, the size of the business, or
  • any new information provided by the consumer. 

3.7 Escalation of an Enquiry (Referral)

3.7.1

An Enquiry (Referral) can be escalated to a Level 2 Complaint for a number of reasons, including where:

  • the provider did not respond within the appropriate timeframe (see 3.7.2 below) and the matter remains unresolved 
  • the provider did not suspend credit management on disputed amounts at our request
  • after assessment of available information we cannot determine that the proposed outcome is fair and reasonable, and the consumer is dissatisfied with the proposed outcome
  • the consumer has accepted a provider’s offer to resolve the matter, but the provider has not actioned the offer within an appropriate timeframe, or
  • the provider has asked us to escalate the Enquiry (Referral) for example, if it would prefer us to conciliate the Complaint.

3.7.2

The following timeframes apply:

  • 2 business days to respond to the consumer when the consumer leaves a voice message at the provider’s resolution department
  • 2 business days to respond to the consumer after referral of an Urgent Enquiry (Referral), and
  • 15 business days to respond to the consumer when the consumer did not give the provider a chance to consider the matter before contacting us.

3.8 Escalation of a Complaint

3.8.1

A Complaint can be escalated to a higher Level for various reasons, including where:

  • the provider did not respond within the appropriate timeframe (see 3.8.3 below) and the matter remains unresolved
  • the provider did not suspend credit management on disputed amounts at our request
  • after assessment of available information we cannot determine that the proposed outcome is fair and reasonable, and the consumer is dissatisfied with the proposed outcome
  • the provider is not actively participating in the conciliation process at Level 2
  • an agreement between consumer and provider on a resolution to a Complaint at Level 2 cannot be reached and, in our view, investigation is required 
  • the provider has not addressed all questions, or not provided all information we asked for, and this information is necessary to determine if a fair and reasonable resolution has been offered
  • assessment of available information reveals further circumstances that need to be considered
  • the amount in dispute is over $1,200, or the Complaint is complex, and the Complaint remains unresolved after a Level 3 investigation
  • the consumer has accepted a provider’s offer to resolve the Complaint, but the provider has not actioned the offer within an appropriate timeframe, or
  • the provider has asked us to escalate the Complaint for example, if it would prefer us to conciliate or investigate the Complaint.

3.8.2

When assessing whether a Complaint could be escalated to a higher Level, we will have regard to various factors, including any of the following:

  • the circumstances surrounding the Complaint
  • our jurisdiction
  • any new information provided by the consumer or the provider
  • the amount in dispute
  • the complexity of the Complaint
  • the length of time the Complaint has been ongoing
  • the time spent, or predicted time we will spend handling the Complaint
  • the number of chances the provider has already had to consider or resolve the Complaint, or
  • the conduct of the consumer and provider while the Complaint has been in progress.

3.8.3

The following timeframes apply:

  • Level 1:
    • 2 business days to respond to the consumer when the consumer leaves a voice message at the provider’s resolution department
    • 2 business days to respond to the consumer after referral of an Urgent Complaint
    • 10 business days in all other circumstances when the consumer discovered the problem they are complaining about less than 2 years before contacting us, and
    • 20 business days when the consumer discovered the problem they are complaining about between 2 to 6 years before contacting us.
  • Level 2:
    • 10 business days after we send written notice to the provider.
  • Level 3:
    • 20 business days after we send written notice to the provider.

4.0 Exceptions to Standard Classification and Escalation

4.1 Direct Classification at Level 2

4.1.1

We may classify a matter as a Level 2 Complaint at first contact if we consider that:

  • the consumer has made several attempts to resolve the matter with the provider
  • the matter is such that a referral to the provider’s resolution department would not contribute to its resolution
  • the matter is complex
  • the matter is considered to be Urgent, and involves a degree of immediate action, or
  • the matter is such that the time we have spent (or predict we will spend) is excessive for a Level 1 Complaint.

4.2 Objections about carriers engaging in land access activity

4.2.1

Objections to the way a carrier engages in land access activity that are wholly or in part, within our jurisdiction to investigate, can be classified directly to Level 4. 


5.0 Deciding to stop handling a Complaint

5.1

We may stop handling a Complaint at any time if it is fair and reasonable to do so. Examples of this include where:

  • we think it is reasonable for the consumer to pay some or all of the provider’s charges and the consumer refuses to pay this amount
  • we have asked the consumer to give us documents or evidence that we think may be relevant to their complaint by a stated time, and the consumer has not done so
  • another person or body is able to handle the complaint more effectively or conveniently than we can 
  • the consumer is making the complaint for an unacceptable reason, for example only to annoy the provider 
  • we think the provider has made a fair offer to resolve the complaint and the consumer has not accepted the offer, or
  • the consumer’s behaviour has been unreasonable.

5.2

When we stop handling a Complaint we will tell the consumer that the matter will not be considered further, and explain our decision.

5.3

When we stop handling a Complaint at any classification Level, the Complaint remains at that classification Level.

5.4

When we stop handling a Complaint we will, if appropriate, also inform the provider.

5.5

When we stop handling a Complaint because another person or body is able to handle the Complaint more effectively or conveniently than we can, we can (if the consumer agrees) ask the other person or body to handle the complaint and give them all of the documents and information that we have about the complaint. We will then write to the consumer and the provider to tell them who will be handling the complaint.


6.0 Provider's right to Request Reclassification

6.1

Providers are entitled to ask us to reconsider our classification or escalation of a Complaint, in accordance with the TIO Complaint Handling Procedures - Reclassification  Requests and Review Requests.

Effective Date: 5 July 2010

Updated on: 14 June 2016

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