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TIO Engagement Charter

We offer a free, independent, and accessible service for resolving complaints residential consumers and small businesses have about phone and internet services. When a problem occurs, we work with consumers and telco providers to solve it as efficiently and effectively as possible. We aim to stop a problem from escalating.

Our focus in providing dispute resolution services is to manage cases fairly and independently. We treat everyone with respect, honesty and courtesy and we ask that you do the same for us.

We do recognise that people accessing our services may be stressed, frustrated, or upset. We also recognise that people who contact us have diverse backgrounds and needs. However, we do not tolerate behaviour that is offensive, abusive, threatening or consumes disproportionate resources. If this happens, we may take steps to protect our staff.

This Engagement Charter outlines our commitment to users of our service, setting expectations and obligations that apply. You can read more about our Engagement Charter here.

Our engagement principles

To ensure a fair outcome is achieved through the TIO complaints process, all parties must engage in a fair process. This occurs when parties co-operate reasonably and genuinely, and where every person is respected and treated with dignity. We expect our staff to be respectful, provide clear and reasoned information to the public.

Our engagement principles are designed to ensure that every interaction is: 

  • Meaningful – engagement is genuine. 
  • Inclusive – engagement is respectful, inclusive, and accessible. 
  • Transparent – engagement is clear and open. 
  • Informed – engagement provides relevant and timely information. 
  • Accountable – engagement is high quality and responsive. 
  • Valuable – engagement creates value for the community and government. This can include social, economic, and environmental value. 

All parties are also expected to comply with TIO’s Privacy Policy

What you can expect from our service

Our people are here to support individual consumers and small businesses who cannot resolve a problem with their phone or internet provider. We work to ensure people can connect with us easily and seamlessly.

We aim to be accessible to everyone in Australia no matter where they live, what means they have, what their needs are, or what language they speak. Our service is free for consumers.

Our ‘no wrong door’ approach with other ombudsman schemes ensures those having telecommunications problems can connect with us, no matter where their complaint journey began.

You can expect us to be: 

  • Free 
  • Independent 
  • Accessible 
  • Fair 
  • Efficient 
  • Effective 
  • Accountable 

When you use our service, we will: 

  • Treat you with courtesy and respect 
  • Explain our processes to you 
  • Listen to your side and the provider’s side  
  • Follow through on what we say we will do 
  • Update you on the progress of your complaint 
  • Give reasons for any decisions we make about your complaint. 

We are guided by our core values:  

  • Fairness: We are impartial, transparent and accessible. We communicate openly and clearly so that everyone can participate effectively to achieve our purpose. 
  • Integrity: We are accountable for what we say and do. We conduct ourselves professionally, listen and welcome diversity. 
  • Excellence: We strive to learn and continually improve. We deliver high quality and timely services. 
  • Collaboration: We embrace diverse backgrounds, ideas, opinions and knowledge and grow from our collective experiences. We work together to produce great outcomes. 

We demonstrate our values by: 

  • discussing the merits of your case openly and clearly
  • being calm, courteous, professional, and respectful
  • giving both parties an opportunity to present their side and considering them neutrally
  • guiding you through the complaints process by explaining the next steps
  • sharing relevant information with you
  • helping the parties reach an agreement
  • making fair and balanced decisions
  • explaining the reasons for our actions
  • valuing feedback. 

It is also part of our purpose to drive improvements in the communications industry. To do this, we will share information including data, case studies and previous decisions, undertake systemic investigations and participate in government and regulatory processes.

The TIO will adopt the values outlined above when engaging with users of our service, regulatory or government bodies and other stakeholders. 

What we expect from you

When you use our service, we expect you to: 

  • Treat us with courtesy and respect 
  • Listen to or read carefully the information we give you 
  • Give us the information we ask for, promptly and as accurately as possible 
  • Cooperate with us and your provider  
  • Let us know if your contact details change 
  • Tell us about any changes that affect the issues in your case 

We understand that many people will be unfamiliar with how we operate – individuals and small businesses can work with us effectively by telling us if they: 

  • have specific communication needs, like the National Relay Service or an interpreter, including Auslan 
  • would like to authorise someone to help them, such as a friend or family member 
  • would like us to explain each step of the process 
  • need more time to provide information. 

If you are helping someone make a complaint to the TIO, you are also required to meet the expectations outlined in this Engagement Charter. This includes:  

  • acting in the best interests of the party you are representing and avoid conflicts of interest
  • acting fairly and professionally towards TIO and telecommunications providers
  • providing all relevant documentation that could reasonably be expected, including confirmation
  • you are authorised to lodge a complaint with the TIO on behalf of someone else
  • cooperating with our investigation including facilitating provision and exchange of information and evidence
  • actively participating in the complaint resolution process and avoid unnecessary delays, including supporting the reasonable negotiation of the complaint.  

We may need to contact the complainant directly if we need to verify important information about their complaint.

Sometimes behaviour can be inappropriate and put our people at risk. In these cases, we must take into account the balance between the right of our people to work in an environment that is safe and free from abuse against the right of individuals to access our services.

What we expect from providers

Most providers are required by legislation to be members of the TIO scheme. All TIO members must comply with our Terms of Reference.

If a provider’s representative (such as their lawyer or debt collector) is not a member of TIO, we expect providers to make their agents aware of (and to comply with) this Engagement Charter.

In their engagement with TIO and complainants, we expect providers (and their representatives) to meet their TIO membership obligations and: 

  • deal with complaints fairly and promptly, and 
  • pay legitimate claims without the need for external dispute resolution, including where there is clear liability and wrongdoing 
  • provide all information to TIO relevant to the complaint within set timeframes 
  • proactively participate in the complaint resolution process 
  • where appropriate, consider a broad range of possible remedies including providing explanations and apologies 
  • carry out any settlement reached and implement Determinations promptly 
  • reasonably co-operate with TIO 
  • comply with a decision made by the TIO 
  • pay TIO fees and charges in full and on time. 

How you can provide feedback about our service

Engaging through social media 

We encourage open discussion, communication, and feedback from the community. You are welcome to share your comments or opinions, as long as you treat us and others with courtesy and respect.

Moderating comments 

On channels where we can actively moderate comments and posts, we will delete any that are: 

  • Indecent, offensive, violent or that contain rude language, links or images 
  • Threatening or include abusive language or defamatory statements 
  • Inappropriate or that contain illegal content 
  • Hateful or has derogatory opinions on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, religion, disability, employment or political orientation 
  • Targeted at any individual in a harassing, aggressive or antisocial manner 
  • Off-topic or inappropriate 
  • Unsolicited advertising, repeated posts/ comments or spam 
  • Using the platform to criticise or abuse individuals, organisations or other parties 

At our moderator’s discretion, your comment may be hidden, deleted or you may be issued a warning or banned from continuing to contribute to the platform, with no warning.

We are committed to considering all feedback, comments, compliments or complaints to improve our practices. We value your privacy and treat personal information confidentially. See our privacy policy for more details.

We may also take the discussion offline if we think the issue is of a private nature, to protect your privacy.

Comments posted on our social media channels should also comply with the following, as any comments that contravene these may be removed: 

We value your feedback 

Please let us know if you think we have provided you with a good service, or if you have any suggestions about how our service may be improved.

The person you speak to about your complaint will almost always be able to answer your questions or take the appropriate steps in your complaint. If they are unsure, they will seek advice from a senior officer and confirm with you, but we do not transfer the call.

If you have feedback or concerns you want to bring to the attention of a senior officer, you can let us know by using the online feedback form on our website. If you do not have access to the internet, we can write it out and send it for you.

We welcome feedback and use it to review and improve our services. We have a policy and procedure for dealing with compliments and complaints about our service, including the way we handle personal information. You can find it here. You can enter your feedback on our feedback form on our website and we will direct it to a compliments and complaints manager. If we need to investigate the issue you raise, we will record your complaint in our database and will respond within 20 business days.