What to expect | The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
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What to expect

Before you begin

First try to resolve the complaint yourself

Before contacting us, you must try to resolve the complaint with your provider 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 weeks or months.

A resolution can be reached at any stage

Once you make a complaint it can pass through three possible stages in seeking a resolution.

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 provider and service your complaint is about
  • the details of the complaint and what happened when you complained to the provider
  • 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 your provider

If your complaint is something we can help you with, we will send details of the complaint to your provider and ask them to contact you directly. (This is called a referral.)

Providers 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—providers 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—providers have 20 business days to respond.

Until your complaint is resolved, your provider must stop credit management action on any charges you are disputing.

Most complaints are resolved at this stage.

You must respond to your provider

It’s important that you respond to your provider by answering their calls or replying to their emails. Remember, most complaints are resolved at this point 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 provider’s response

If you’re not happy with their response, we’ll 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’ll tell you why and you can ask us to review the decision.

Otherwise we’ll move your complaint to the next stage of the complaint process.

Stage 2: We may begin conciliation or investigation

If we can’t resolve our complaint between you and your provider, we will help you take the next step: either conciliation or investigation.

Conciliation

In conciliation, we work with you and your provider to find a resolution, either by conference call or by talking to each of you separately.

First, we might ask you (and the provider) 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 provider if we ask for it.

Investigation

In an investigation, we’ll ask you and your provider for more information.

We may ask for information about billing, contracts, and records of your correspondence with each other. We’ll analyse this information to decide how we think the complaint should be resolved.

We’ll reach an outcome

If you and your provider agree on a resolution during conciliation or investigation, we will close the complaint as resolved.

But if you and the provider 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 provider and ask if you accept it.

Your options

Option 1: You and the provider both accept the recommended outcome

If you both accept the recommended outcome, we expect you and the provider to carry out the agreed actions, and we will close the complaint as resolved.

Option 2: You or the provider reject the recommended outcome

If you or your provider 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 provider won’t have to carry out the actions and we will not consider your complaint any further.

What happens next

If you or your provider reject the outcome, we’ll move your complaint to the next stage of the process.

Stage 3: We may seek an adjudicator’s decision

Our adjudicator team is a team of senior and experienced ombudsman staff. They make decisions on complaints that cannot be resolved during conciliation or investigation.

They may form two types of decision within this stage: a preliminary view and a decision.

Preliminary view

An adjudicator may form a preliminary view on how the complaint should be resolved.

We will send the preliminary view to you and the provider 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 provider 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 provider 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 provider won’t have to carry out the actions and we will not consider your complaint any further.

If your provider rejects the preliminary view or doesn’t respond

If your provider rejects the preliminary view or doesn’t respond, we will consider your provider's reasons and make a decision about how your complaint should be resolved.

Decision

If we decide the outcome of the complaint, you and the provider will have 10 days to respond.

If you accept the decision

If you accept the decision, your provider must follow the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s directions. You must agree not to take the complaint to any other forum if the provider 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 provider won’t have to carry out the actions and we will not consider your complaint any further.

If your provider doesn’t do what was decided

We will tell your provider to take action within five days. If the provider doesn’t show that 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:

  • 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 is frivolous or vexatious
  • 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.