The TIO Constitution specifies the time within which the TIO can accept a complaint from a consumer. Currently the time limit is 1 year from when the consumer became aware of the events that caused the complaint. The TIO has discretion to extend this to 2 years. Complaints made more than 2 years after a consumer became aware of the relevant events cannot be accepted.
In the past year, the Ombudsman, TIO Council and TIO Board have considered the question of the time in which a complaint must be made in detail. As a result, and following consultation with relevant Commonwealth Ministers, the time limits will be extended.
From 1 July 2013, the time within which the TIO can accept a complaint from a consumer will be 2 years from when the consumer became aware of the events that caused the complaint. The Ombudsman will also have discretion to extend this time to 6 years in certain circumstances. Complaints made more than 6 years after a consumer became aware of the relevant events will not be accepted.
The new time limits align more closely to:
- the National Benchmarks for industry Ombudsman
- time limits of other national Ombudsman offices
- statutes of limitation for simple contracts, and
- current industry practice, for example:
- the 2 year time limit matches the most common length of a telecommunications contract, and
- the 6 year time limit allows for most or all pre and post contractual interactions, including handling the root causes of disputed default listings.
- if there is an acceptable explanation for the delay
- if extending time will cause any prejudice to the service provider
- if extending time is fair and reasonable in the circumstances, and
- the merits of the complaint.
More details about changes to TIO processes will follow in MNews in June 2013. A new Complaints Handling Procedure will also be published.
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