Record Keeping and Protection of Information
The purpose of these Procedures is to ensure we collect, record and use information relating to Enquiries, Complaints or Objections in a fair, independent, economical, informal and fast way.
For each Enquiry, Complaint or Objection, we keep a record of:
- contact with the consumer and the provider
- verbal or written authority given for another person to speak on behalf of the consumer
- correspondence we have received and sent
- information received from the consumer and the provider
- issues raised and information discussed, both internally and externally
- decisions made about the issues and the reasons for the decisions, and
- any evidence, TIO Position Statements, laws or industry codes that we have considered to be relevant to a fair and reasonable outcome to the issues in dispute.
We record this information in electronic form in a Complaint Management System and may keep a hard copy when appropriate.
We allocate Keywords to the Record, based on the type of service under consideration, and the nature of the Enquiry, Complaint or Objection.
We keep records of contact and other details of each provider where this may be relevant to the resolution of complaints. Providers are required to promptly give us updated information about these details if changes occur or upon our request.
We promote the disclosure and sharing of information between the parties to a matter where, in our view, this will help in the investigation and resolution of the matter. Any information we release to either party is on the condition that it will only be used by the party who receives it, and only for the purpose of investigating and resolving the matter.
We consider requests from parties to keep information confidential on a case by case basis.
In order to facilitate resolution and fair and reasonable outcomes, we expect that a provider will generally not assert that information it gives us is commercial-in-confidence and cannot be given or explained to a consumer. We consider these issues on a case by case basis depending on the relevance and importance of the information to resolving any issue in the matter.
Each party to a matter is given the opportunity to respond to any information where, in our view, the information will help in the resolution of the matter.
We expect a provider to remove any reference to third parties in information it gives us unless it is directly relevant to an unresolved issue in the matter.
In all circumstances we have regard to our public interest obligation as an Ombudsman’s Office.
When a consumer contacts us for the first time we will create a new Record which is allocated a specific reference number.
When a consumer contacts us again about the same Enquiry or Complaint we will ask the consumer for the reference number, and reopen the same Record.
We will create a new Record, and issue a new reference number if:
- the consumer presents new information that cannot be included within an existing Enquiry or Complaint, for example, if new issues are presented that were not raised in a written notification to the provider at Level 2
- the Record was allocated to a provider by mistake, and must be registered again in another provider’s name, or
- we consider the length of time since the original Record was created is extensive, and creating a new record will be more practical and efficient.
When a new Record is created a cross reference to the original Record is included.
We aim to include as much of the following information from the consumer as possible to the Record at first contact:
- the consumer’s name, address and contact details
- if the consumer is the account holder of the service
- if the consumer is not the account holder of the service, confirmation that the account holder has given consent for the consumer to speak on his or her behalf
- the account holder’s name, address and contact details
- if the consumer identifies itself as a small business, information about the size of the business
- an identifier for the service the matter relates to, including but not limited to:
- a telephone number
- an internet username
- an order, account, or reference number
- a billing or service address, or
- an account or reference number from a debt collection or credit reporting agency
- the provider's name, if the matter is about that provider
- confirmation that the consumer has either attempted or not attempted to contact the provider to resolve the issue
- a summary of the matter giving rise to the Enquiry or Complaint
- a summary of the response to the matter so far from the provider, according to the consumer
- the total of any amount in dispute
- how the consumer heard about us and if the provider referred him or her to us, and
- the consumer’s preferred resolution of the matter.
We add a summary to the Record of:
- the information we gave to the consumer
- any action we have taken, and
- the reasons for any exception to standard Classification procedure.
We attach to the Record all correspondence provided by the consumer.
For the purposes of collecting Enquiry, Complaint and Objection data, we identify and record matters according to a set of Keywords, grouped by service type, for example:
- Land Line
- Mobile, and
- Mobile Premium Services.
When we register an Enquiry, Complaint or Objection, we will select the most relevant Keywords to match the individual circumstances of the Enquiry, Complaint or Objection.
As a matter progresses we may add more Keywords if we consider them to be relevant, and may change existing Keywords.
5.1We add the following information to the Record, as we receive it during the course of the matter:
- any updates to information that has already been recorded, for example a change in the total of a disputed amount
- verbal statements from the consumer and the provider
- correspondence we received and sent about the matter
- a summary of issues we discussed and information we gave
- decisions we made, and the reasons for the decisions
- evidence asked for from the consumer or the provider
- evidence received from the consumer and the provider
- an assessment of evidence received from the consumer or the provider
- any further evidence required following our assessment of evidence received
- any further questions for the consumer or the provider
- where appropriate, a summary of our current view of the Complaint, and
- any TIO Position Statements, laws or industry codes that we consider may be relevant to achieving a fair and reasonable outcome to the issues in dispute.
When we add any evidence or correspondence to the Record, we may include a brief summary of the information.
We expect that the parties to a matter will communicate with us and with each other in a professional, courteous and non-threatening manner. We take a serious view of communications that contain offensive, rude, abusive or threatening material. In these cases we may take a number of steps, including:
- requiring the party to communicate only in writing
- editing information that we received to remove offensive or abusive comments
- not responding to such communications
- deciding to stop handling a Complaint, or
- reporting issues of concern to a higher level of management or to an external agency or regulator including the police or a law enforcement agency.
If we consider that information from a consumer includes unnecessary or irrelevant reference to a third party, or to sensitive information such as a person’s racial or ethnic origin, criminal record or health, we will delete this reference before forwarding the information to the provider.
If correspondence from one party is written in such a way that we consider that forwarding a copy of this to the other party would not contribute to the resolution of the matter, we may choose not to forward the correspondence, and may instead:
- provide own own summary of the correspondence,
- ask the party to rewrite the correspondence, or
- forward the correspondence to the other party with part of it removed.
We may choose to keep any information confidential from a party, whether the parties have asked for this or not.
If the consumer or the provider provides personal information that we consider is necessary to be disclosed to an external agency such as the police, in accordance with privacy obligations we will not ask the party’s permission before disclosing the information. This may include, for example, where serious threats to the life, health or safety of an individual or the public have been made or possible unlawful activity may be committed.
When the consumer requests that any information be kept confidential, we will inform the consumer of any impact this may have on the resolution of the matter, including where, in our view, the matter cannot be considered further.
When the consumer presents information that indicates, in our view, that the consumer is:
- not acting in good faith, or in accordance with principles of alternative dispute resolution
- threatening the safety of any representative of the provider or the TIO
- breaking the law, or
- planning to cause harm to a person, or themselves,
we may decline any confidentiality request, and may give the information to the provider, or appropriate external agency.
8.1When a provider requests that any information be kept confidential, we will generally only grant the request if we consider that information:
- discloses personal information about a third party, or
- discloses commercially sensitive information about the provider’s relationships with retailers, wholesalers, dealers or another party with which it has a commercial relationship.
We may still decide to disclose the information to the consumer on the basis that the consumer will treat the information as confidential, if we consider that this disclosure will contribute to the resolution of the matter.
We will generally not agree to a confidentiality request from a provider about information that should be readily available to any customer of the provider, such as customer care notes, or itemised call statements.
When a party to a matter requests information from the Record, we will have regard to the following considerations when deciding whether to release it:
- whether release of the information will assist in the resolution of the matter
- whether the party making the request has a legitimate purpose for requesting the information
- whether the information contains legal or other advice we obtained for our own purposes, and
- whether the party that originally supplied the information has requested that the information be treated as confidential.
When we give the consumer information from the Record, personal details of provider representatives and TIO staff may be removed, unless the information is directly relevant to the matter.
When we give the provider information from the Record, we will remove any information that has been agreed with the consumer will be kept confidential.
Any information we release to either party is on the condition that the information will only be used by the party who receives it, and only for the purpose of investigating and resolving the matter.
We can publish details when we have decided, dismissed or made recommendations about a Complaint.
The details we publish may include details of the Complaint, the name of the provider, why we reached the decision or dismissed the Complaint, or why we made the recommendations.
If we are required by law to disclose information received, we will, wherever possible, notify the person who provided the information to us so that they can seek to challenge the disclosure.
Effective Date: 5 July 2010
Updated on: 30 November 2014