What to expect
When Wendy can’t fix a problem with her telco, she asks the TIO for help. What happens when she makes a complaint with the TIO?
The TIO sent Wendy’s complaint to her telco, but it’s still not fixed. What are the next steps for Wendy, her telco, and the TIO?
Before you begin
First try to resolve the complaint yourself
Before contacting us, you must try to resolve the complaint with the telco first. We can’t begin to resolve your complaint until you’ve tried to resolve it on your own.
Complaints are generally resolved quickly
Almost 90% of complaints are resolved within 10 business days. However some complaints may take some weeks or months, especially if they are complex.
A resolution can be reached at any stage
Resolving a complaint can involve up to three stages.
Many complaints are resolved after the first or second stage. If a resolution can’t be reached at any point in the process, we will move the complaint to the next stage.
Start: Make a complaint
There are many ways to tell us about your complaint:
See Contact us for more ways to get in touch.
Be sure to tell us:
- your name and contact details
- the name and contact details of your authorised representative, if you have one
- which telco and service your complaint is about
- the details of the complaint and what happened when you complained to the telco
- the outcome you want.
Once you have submitted your complaint, one of our team members will review the information and be in touch within 1–2 business days.
If we can’t deal with your complaint straight away, we’ll register your contact as an enquiry so that we have your details on file.
If your complaint doesn’t fall within our area of responsibility, we may refer you to another organisation that can help.
Stage 1: We talk to the telco
If your complaint is something we can help you with, we will send details of the complaint to the telco and ask them to contact you directly. (This is called a referral.)
Telcos have 10 business days to respond to your complaint and try to resolve it with you. Timeframes are different for any issues that:
- are urgent—telcos have 2 business days to respond. Read more about which complaints are urgent in Help for people and businesses at risk
you became aware of more than two years ago—telcos have 20 business days to respond.
Until your complaint is resolved, the telco must stop credit management action on any charges you are disputing.
Most complaints are resolved at this stage.
You must respond to the telco
It’s important you respond to the telco by answering their calls or replying to their emails. Remember, most complaints are resolved early in the process. If you do not respond to their communication, the process slows down for everyone.
Tell us if you’re not happy with the telco's response
If you’re not happy with the telco's response, we will ask you why and decide whether it’s reasonable for us to keep handling your complaint.
What happens next?
We may decide to stop handling your complaint. If this happens we will tell you why and you can ask us to review the decision.
Otherwise we will move your complaint to the next stage of the complaint process.
Stage 2: We may begin conciliation or investigation
If we can’t resolve your complaint between you and the telco, we will help you take the next step: either conciliation or investigation.
In conciliation, we work with you and the telco to find a resolution, either by conference call or by talking to each of you separately.
First, we might ask you (and the telco) to give us extra information. If we decide to use a conference call, we will set a time that suits you both.
The more actively engaged you are in this process, the faster and more efficient the conciliation process will be. This means being available for conference calls and giving us billing information, contracts, and records of your correspondence with the telco if we ask for it.
In an investigation, we’ll ask you and the telco for more information.
We may ask for information about billing, contracts, and records of your correspondence with each other. We will analyse this information to decide how we think the complaint should be resolved.
Requests for information
An important part of our complaint handling process is our ability to request information from you and the telco to help us consider the complaint issues. This allows us to assist you and the telco to reach an agreed outcome and, where necessary, recommend an outcome or make a decision.
When we request information from you or the telco , we will provide a timeframe for response. We will consider reasonable requests for an extension. Where you or the telco request further extensions of time, these are not automatically granted and case officers will consider the reasons for requesting additional time and any impact on the other party.
Where you or the telco do not supply information in response to our request, we will progress the complaint along our complaint handling process with the information we have – to a recommended outcome. If you or the telco do not give a reasonable explanation for not giving us information we ask for, it is important to remember we can draw inferences from a party’s failure to provide information, including that the party doesn’t have information to support its position, or its information supports the other party’s position.
In some instances where you do not provide us with the requested information, we may decide to stop handling your complaint. Please see Section 3 for more information about us deciding to stop handling your complaint.
If you or the telco repeatedly fail to comply with our requests for information during case management and the case officer has issued a recommended outcome (see below section for more information on recommended outcomes), there may be consequences for the party if they reject our recommended outcome and seek a preliminary view. We may decide the party is unable to rely on information they subsequently provide at the preliminary view stage, unless they give a reasonable explanation for not supplying it earlier. For more information about preliminary views, see Stage 3 below, ‘We May Make a Decision’.
We will recommend an outcome
If you and the telco agree on a resolution during conciliation or investigation, we will close the complaint as resolved.
But if you and the telco can’t agree, we may recommend an outcome for your complaint. We will take into account factors including:
- relevant laws
- industry guidelines and good practice
- what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances.
This outcome is officially documented and called a recommended outcome. We will send this recommended outcome to you and the telco and ask if you accept it.
Option 1: You and the telco both accept the recommended outcome
If you both accept the recommended outcome, we expect you and the telco to carry out the agreed actions, and we will close the complaint as resolved.
Option 2: You or the telco reject the recommended outcome
If you or the telco reject the recommended outcome, you must tell us why within 10 business days. The complaint will be sent to our adjudicator team. An adjudicator may investigate further or form a preliminary view on how the complaint should be resolved.
Important: If you don’t respond to the recommended outcome, we will end the process
If you don’t respond, we will close our file. The telco won’t have to carry out the actions and we will not consider your complaint any further.
What happens next
If you or the telco reject the outcome, we will move your complaint to the next stage of the process.
Stage 3: We may make a decision
If a complaint cannot be resolved through conciliation or investigation, the complaint will be referred to a Decision Maker. A Decision Maker is a senior and experienced staff member who has been delegated the power to make decisions.
A Decision Maker may form two types of decision within this stage: a preliminary view and a decision.
A Decision Maker may form a preliminary view on how the complaint should be resolved.
We will send the preliminary view to you and the telco and ask you to accept or reject it within 10 business days.
If you both accept the preliminary view
If you both accept the preliminary view, we expect you and the telco to carry out the agreed actions. We will close the complaint as resolved. You must agree not to take your complaint to another forum if the telco carries out the agreed actions.
If you reject the preliminary view or don’t respond
If you reject the preliminary view or don’t respond, we will close our file. The telco won’t have to carry out the actions and we will not consider your complaint any further.
If the telco rejects the preliminary view or doesn’t respond
If the telco rejects the preliminary view or doesn’t respond, we will consider the telco's reasons and make a decision about how your complaint should be resolved.
If we decide the outcome of the complaint, you and the telco will have 10 days to respond.
If you accept the decision
If you accept the decision, the telco must follow the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s directions. You must agree not to take the complaint to any other forum if the telco follows the directions.
If you reject the decision or don’t respond
If you reject the decision or don’t respond, we will close our file. The telco won’t have to carry out the actions and we will not consider your complaint any further.
If the telco doesn’t do what was decided
We will tell the telco to take action within five days. If the telco doesn’t show they have done what was decided, we will refer them to the regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, for enforcement.
We may also publish details of the non-compliance.
Why we might stop handling a complaint
At any time during the case management process, we will stop handling a complaint if you ask us to, or if it’s resolved by agreement. We may also decide to stop handling a complaint if:
- the telco you’ve complained about stops trading
- you can’t be contacted, or are not participating in the resolution process
- you refuse to pay undisputed charges (this means charges for services you are using)
- your complaint was not made in good faith
- you are acting unreasonably
- we can’t take the complaint because it is out of our jurisdiction
- another body or form is more appropriate to deal with the complaint.
If we decide to stop handling your complaint, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed by a senior officer.
Examples of decisions we have made
For examples of decisions we have made, please visit our Decisions and preliminary views page.