Role of TIO needs to grow: Conroy

NBN developments, lack of customer service means telcos will continue to be hounded

The telco industry will continue to be hounded by watchdog groups, such as the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), to provide better customer service, Senator Conroy has said.

At the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network’s (ACCAN) 2011 conference in Sydney, Conroy said the role of TIO will only expand in the coming years.

“For the TIO to be effective, it needs to help consumers, and I’m looking for the TIO to play a bigger role,” Conroy said.

“Reviews show that the government and consumer groups are not prepared to leave the consumers’ experiences solely in the hands of [service] providers.”

Citing the changing nature of the telecommunications market and the advent of the National Broadband Network (NBN) as a challenge for the TIO, Conroy said the market has expanded exponentially.

“It’s a different world today, with a variety of consumer devices generating many more complaints than we saw in the early days in the office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman,” Conroy said.

“When the TIO was established in 1993, it was dealing with a narrow market with a small group of providers.”

Despite TIO evolving with a changing market, Conroy said the ombudsman must do more to meet the demands of frustrated consumers.

“The TIO has taken its own steps to evolve, and has undertaken successful strategies to highlight the problems that consumers were facing,” he said.

“Despite these efforts, there has been an increase in the amount of complaints made to the TIO in the past couple of years, which suggests there is more the TIO can do to enhance industry performance - the TIO needs to play a stronger role to meet the consumers’ legitimate needs.”

Conroy's comments come as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) last week said it would not accept Telstra’s structural separation undertaking (SSU) in its current form; a blow which could further delay the rollout of the NBN.

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Tags Stephen ConroyTelecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)australian communications consumer action networkAustralian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN)Senator Stephen Conroy

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1 Comment

gnome

1


It's hardly right to describe the TIO as being in the category of "watchdog groups". The TIO is an industry dispute resolution scheme available to endusers as a last resort to adjudicate on disputes with service providers. In practice it is funded and controlled by the industry, with every member of the board appointed by industry.

And it's not at all clear what the ACCC comments on the structure of Telstra might have to do with the TIO?

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