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Media Release

Review into Optus Outage sets out pathway for increased trust and confidence during times of crisis

Summary
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) welcomes the Australian Government’s response to the “Review into the Optus outage of 8 November 2023 Final Report”, published 30 April 2024.

The Government’s response supports a range of telco sector improvements and identifies the critical role the TIO plays in the sector. Specifically, the TIO will support the delivery of its recommendations: 

  • Recommendation 2: TIO to convene the Steering Committee to determine the most appropriate body to provide oversight of Triple Zero
  • Recommendation 9: Improved communication and collaboration during telco outages
  • Recommendation 12: Updates to the Complaints Handling Standard and Record Keeping Rules
  • Recommendation 13: A mandated industry-wide approach to resolutions available to consumers affected by a crisis or large-scale outage.

Quotes attributable to Ombudsman Cynthia Gebert:

“We welcome the outcomes of the Optus Outage Review and the government’s response. This highlights the reality that telecommunications services are essential and critically important to our community. The TIO looks forward to continuing to contribute to improving the sector for all Australians.”

“Trust and confidence in essential services must be underpinned by frameworks that support fair and reasonable outcomes for consumers and telcos in line with community expectations. This review and the government’s response sets out a pathway for increased consumer trust and confidence during times of crisis.” 

“The TIO will work with all parties to deliver a robust Triple Zero function, enhanced telco standards and rules in line with community expectations, improved communication during a crisis, and a fairer system for consumers to seek compensation during times of mass disruption.” 

Ends

Notes to Editors

For all media enquiries please contact the Media Team on 0437 548 540 or mediaenquiries@tio.com.au

About the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman provides a free and independent dispute resolution service for residential consumers and small businesses who have an unresolved complaint about their phone or internet service.

Consumers and small businesses should contact tio.com.au or 1800 062 058.

 

Support for consumers and small businesses impacted by Optus network outage

Updated 14 Nov 2023

Contacting Optus

  • Latest information on the Outage here: Outage | Optus
  • Optus Specialist Care: Specialist Care (optus.com.au)
  • Contacting Optus: Message Optus anytime (24/7) via My Optus app remains the easiest way to contact Optus, or call on 133 937.

Who we can help

Individual consumers
An individual consumer is a person who uses a telecommunications provider’s services for personal purposes. Most providers only allow one person to be listed as the account holder of a residential account.

Small businesses and not-for-profits 
Generally, a small business or not-for-profit consumer has up to $3,000,000 annual turnover and no more than 20 full-time employees. We take into account if employees are permanent, casual, and if employment is seasonal or voluntary. 

How we can help

Whilst service providers do not offer a fault-free service, there may be remedies available to you when a product does not perform as expected.

These remedies will vary based on individual circumstances but may include refunds for the time you were unable to use the service, compensation, or in some circumstances a release from contract.

We will take a careful approach to considering whether compensation is appropriate. The amount of compensation awarded will be proportionate to the extent of the harm suffered. It is likely most awards of compensation for non-financial loss will be modest.

If you have contacted Optus and are unhappy with its response to your complaint, we may be able to help.

We deal with compensation claims for:

  • financial loss caused by a breach of an obligation a telco owes a consumer
  • non-financial loss where an individual has suffered:
    • embarrassment or humiliation caused by a privacy breach
    • unusual amounts of stress or inconvenience.

Types of claims for losses

We deal with claims for compensation such as:

  • lost business profit due to connection delays or network faults
  • costs of having to pay for alternative services when a telco does not supply agreed services
  • the costs of repairing a telco's damage to property
  • the costs of protecting someone’s safety after a telco discloses a consumer’s personal information, for example an unlisted number or address.
  • breach of privacy rights resulting in injury to your feelings or humiliation
  • where an unusual amount of physical inconvenience, time taken to resolve a situation, or interference with an individual’s peace of mind has occurred because of a telco’s action or inaction.

We do not deal with claims for compensation:

  • for the costs of making a complaint to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
  • for loss of business reputation
  • made to penalise a telco.

When assessing your compensation claim, we will consider what steps you took to protect your interests and minimise any losses. 

You can only get compensation for losses directly caused by the telco

We assess claims by first determining if there was a breach by the telco. Then we consider the impact of the breach on you.

For financial loss, you will need to give us evidence to show the loss. This will vary depending on the loss you are claiming for.

Faulty services

The Australian Consumer Law sets out consumer guarantees for goods and services and the rights you have when something fails to perform as expected.

When assessing complaints, the TIO assesses whether these guarantees have been met, the extent of the failure and what remedies may be fair and reasonable in the circumstances.

Remedies

The remedy you are entitled to will depend on whether the failure to comply with the guarantee is a major or minor failure.

If your product or service fails to meet a consumer guarantee, your right to a remedy may depend on the type of failure. Some possible remedies that may apply are:

  • refund
  • repair
  • replacement or exchange
  • compensation
  • cancellation of contract.

Minor failures can usually be remedied within a reasonable amount of time.

Major failures apply when there is a clear breach, and a product or service cannot be fixed or remedied within a reasonable time.

As telco’s do not offer a fault free service, a one-off outage is unlikely to be considered a major failure which would constitute a cancellation of contract under the ACL.

When we handle complaints about faulty services, we consider what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances having regard to the law, relevant industry codes, guidelines, and good practice.

 

Compensation amounts

The amount of compensation for financial loss we can award

We can direct a telco to pay you up to $100,000 in compensation. If we estimate the value of the claim is likely to exceed $100,000, we may decide not to handle a complaint because a court or tribunal is more appropriate for your claim.

If you want to make a claim for financial loss, you should be able to show us the loss with supporting information.

The amount of compensation for non-financial loss we can award

The limits on the amount of compensation we can award are:

  • A maximum of $100,000 for complaints about privacy rights
  • A maximum of $1,500 for all other complaints.

You can find more information about how we handle complaints about faulty services and compensation in the links below.

Further information

Optus phone and internet network outage

Posted 1.10pm

Update from Optus

"Some services across fixed and mobile are now gradually being restored. This may take a few hours for all services to recover, and different services may restore at different sites over that time."


Posted 11.47am

Optus has advised triple zero ("000") calls will not work from an Optus landline (fixed line telephone). Mobile calls to 000 will work if another carrier is available. Optus customers who need to contact emergency services are encouraged to use a mobile line to call 000.


Posted 10.40am

In the early hours of 8 November 2023 Optus customers started reporting that they were unable to connect to the Optus network. This includes both the mobile network, fixed line network, and customers roaming overseas.

There are reports of providers that use the Optus wholesale network also being impacted. We will publish this information as it becomes available.

How we can help

If you have contacted Optus and you are unhappy with the response, you can make a complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

If you have not contacted Optus, or you have been unable to contact them, we can forward your complaint to Optus on your behalf.

We can help you with refunds for the time you have been unable to use your service, compensation claims and disputes about your contract.

Please note

The role of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman is to handle disputes. If you are in an emergency situation or require medical assistance please call 000.

We will keep updating this page as soon as we have further information.

Ends

Notes to Editors

For all media enquiries please contact the Media Team on 0437 548 540 or mediaenquiries@tio.com.au

About the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman provides a free and independent dispute resolution service for residential consumers and small businesses who have an unresolved complaint about their phone or internet service.

Consumers and small businesses should contact tio.com.au or 1800 062 058.