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A new vision takes Telecommunications Ombudsman into the future

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman is expanding its Vision and Roles beyond dispute resolution, to deal more effectively with systemic issues. Through this new focus – reported in the June edition of TIO Talks, released today – the TIO aims to contribute to better customer service and complaint handling within the telecommunications industry.

The changes complement the TIO’s commitment to deliver exceptional dispute resolution services to consumers and service providers. In the most recent survey of TIO services, 97 per cent of consumers said they were satisfied with the new approach to conciliation, a process where the TIO facilitates a resolution between consumers and service providers.

TIO Talks also reports 52,231 new complaints were received between January and March 2012. Almost two-thirds were about mobile phone services.

Two significant trends in new mobile phone complaints were issues about overcommitment resulting from inadequate spend controls, and complaints about excess internet usage charges. New complaints about overcommitment caused by inadequate spend controls increased to 4,282 in the January-March 2012 quarter, compared to 2,181 in the same quarter in 2011. In the same periods, new complaints about disputed internet charges increased from 981 to 2,823 (180 per cent).

“It is well known that more internet browsing and downloads are now done on mobile phones and other mobile devices. With this change in consumer behaviour, we have seen complaints about excess data charges almost treble over the last year,” Ombudsman Simon Cohen said.  “The incidence of these complaints will reduce if consumers are only contracted for services they can afford, and where spend management tools such as notifications and usage meters are accurate and reliable”.

Other topics covered in TIO Talks include:

  • a scam targeting small businesses where hackers fraudulently profit from selling international phone calls using the business’s phone system
  • what consumers can expect when their services have been affected by extreme weather events or natural disasters