Refusal to join or failure to comply with the TIO Scheme
- members of the TIO Scheme, and
- carriers and eligible service providers who have not yet joined the TIO Scheme.
To set out steps that we may take where an Organisation's conduct may be considered to be non-compliant with its obligations to join and comply with the TIO Scheme.
All carriers and eligible carriage service providers have a legal obligation under sections 128 and 132 of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Services Standards) Act 1999 to join and comply with the TIO Scheme.
We help members of the TIO Scheme to comply with the TIO Scheme.
We refer non-compliant Organisations to the industry regulator, the ACMA. We may share information with the ACMA and other appropriate regulators.
Our Industry Engagement section contacts carriers and eligible service providers to inform them about their obligations to join and comply with the TIO Scheme.
Industry Engagement keeps in regular contact with members of the TIO Scheme and from time to time provides information and assistance regarding compliance with the TIO Scheme.
The following are examples of conduct that we consider demonstrate non-compliance:
- Refusal to join the TIO Scheme.
- Non-response to TIO Complaints, including where:
- the Organisation fails to respond to us in a meaningful way to questions asked during conciliation or investigation
- the Organisation fails to provide evidence that it holds or can obtain, or
- the Organisation fails to respond to us at all,
and the conduct is recurring or significant.
- Non-response to TIO communication, for example where:
- our attempts to communicate with the Organisation by different methods have been unsuccessful, or
- the Organisation refuses to accept or acknowledge TIO communication, claims ignorance of receiving TIO communications, or refuses to supply current TIO membership or contact details,
and the conduct is recurring or significant.
- Failure to act, where the Organisation fails or refuses to comply with a decision, temporary ruling, or recommended resolution of a systemic issue.
- Evasive or obstructive conduct, for example where:
- the Organisation’s efforts or offer to resolve a matter are made conditional on the consumer’s withdrawal of a TIO Complaint, or
- the Organisation seeks to penalise a consumer for complaining to the TIO, for example, by ceasing or notifying an intention to cease providing services to the consumer, or by charging a fee relating to the making or handling of the complaint.
- The Organisation fails to pay, or fails to make an arrangement to pay, a received invoice for TIO services.
3.1 Informal resolution
3.1.1Where we believe that an Organisation’s conduct demonstrates non-compliance, we may approach the Organisation informally to discuss the situation and seek an undertaking that it will:
- join the TIO Scheme if it has not done so, or
- if a member, comply with the TIO Scheme, including complying with the TIO Complaint Handling Procedures.
Where the Organisation gives such an undertaking, we provide written confirmation that the Organisation will fully comply with its undertaking to us.
Where the Organisation fully complies with its undertaking to us, we will generally not take further action under this procedure.
3.2 Warning of referral
When we believe that an Organisation’s conduct demonstrates non-compliance, and:
- the Organisation does not give, or fully comply with, an undertaking to us to resolve the issue, or
- it is appropriate, given the nature of the matter, to proceed directly to a warning,
we will provide written notification to the Organisation which:
- details the non-compliant conduct
- warns of the possible consequences of non-compliance, including referral to the ACMA, and
- requests corrective action within a specified timeframe.
Where the Organisation responds and gives evidence to show it has taken the specified corrective action, we will generally not take further action under this procedure.
3.3 Referral to the ACMA
Where the Organisation does not respond, or does not give evidence to show it has taken the specified corrective action in respect of non-compliant conduct, and we have warned of possible referral to the ACMA, we will refer the Organisation to the ACMA.
The notification to the ACMA specifies the evidence on which we based our decision to refer the matter.
Where an Organisation is referred to the ACMA we may provide more information from time to time to help the ACMA.
Where an Organisation has been referred to the ACMA for non-compliance we may publish information including the name of the Organisation and the matters where we consider the Organisation was non-compliant.
We may publish the information in any forum we consider appropriate, including but not limited to:
- the TIO Annual Report
- the TIO website, or
- a Member News bulletin.
Before publishing information about non-compliant behaviour we will advise the Organisation of the proposed publication and give an opportunity for the Organisation to comment.
When the Ombudsman is concerned that an Organisation's non-compliant conduct has or may result in substantial consumer detriment, the Ombudsman may also release a media statement about the non-compliant conduct, and may name the Organisation concerned.
Before releasing such a statement the Ombudsman will consult with the Chair of the TIO Board.
We can make a recommendation in resolving a Complaint. Providers are not required to comply with a recommendation.
Where a provider chooses not to comply with a recommendation we may publish this information in any forum we consider appropriate.
When we identify that a provider is engaging in conduct we consider may be non-compliant we may depart from standard procedures when handling any new or current Complaints received about that provider.
When we depart from standard procedure in handling an Enquiry or Complaint we may contact the consumer to explain the decision, and any consequences of the change in procedure.
When we consider that a provider has become compliant, and where practicable, we may resume handling an Enquiry or Complaint in line with standard procedures.
We are committed to having effective communication with the ACMA, the ACCC and other regulators about non-compliant conduct to enhance effective compliance and enforcement.
We also recognise that, on some occasions, non-compliant conduct with the potential to result in substantial consumer detriment may be identified at an early stage, and that prompt provision of information to the relevant regulator may reduce any potential for detriment.
To promote this we may regularly meet with appropriate regulators to discuss non-compliance matters, and may provide information to regulators at any time about:
- possible non-compliance by an Organisation, and
- issues of consumer detriment relating to the conduct of an Organisation.