Awareness of the TIO has increased by almost 60 per cent over the past four years according to the latest edition of TIO Talks, released today. A survey of 1,000 consumers conducted in late 2012 found that 57 per cent were aware of the TIO, compared to 36 per cent in 2008.
“Consumers must know about the TIO if they are to use our services. Increased awareness of the TIO improves our effectiveness and makes TIO services available to more Australians,” said Ombudsman Simon Cohen.
TIO Talks also highlights the obligation on service providers to stop credit management action on a disputed debt while a complaint about it is being dealt with. This includes ceasing direct debits, credit default listing, disconnections and collecting disputed debts. Recent decisions by the Ombudsman have reinforced this requirement of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code.
“The requirement that credit management action cease while a complaint about a debt is being resolved is an important one,” Mr Cohen said. “It preserves the position of the consumer until the complaint is finalised. Any breach of this obligation is a serious matter.”
TIO Talks reports on a 1.4 per cent increase in new complaints to the TIO in October-December 2012 when compared to the previous quarter – in all 38,287 new complaints were received. When compared to the same time in 2011, new complaints decreased 20.3 per cent. Complaints about billing, customer service, complaint handling, credit management and contracts have all substantially decreased over the last year.
“It is positive to see substantially fewer new complaints than 12 months ago,” Mr Cohen said. “Fewer customer service and billing issues in particular suggest consumers have found it easier to resolve common telco complaints during 2012.”
TIO Talks also touches on issues faced by consumers as a result of apps used on smartphones and tablets. The majority of the 221 new complaints to the TIO involving apps between July and December 2012 were from users who disputed charges after unexpectedly high downloads.
Media inquiries: Mirjana Jovetic, Communications Manager (03) 8600 8378.