Telcos watch out - TIO powers increase

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman will have greater power over consumer complaints about telcos

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has been given increased power to handle consumer complaints.

The TIO will be able to hand out legally binding directions to telcos of up to $50,000 (previously $30,000) and make recommendations of up to $100,000 (previously $85,000).

“An increase in powers is always a good thing for consumers who cannot resolve the issues they are having with their service providers,” said Simon Cohen, ombudsman.

“The adjustment to our monetary limits means that consumers who previously had disputes too large for us to deal with will now have access to our fast, free and independent service.”

Senator Stephen Conroy, minister for broadband, communications and the digital economy, slated the increased powers for the TIO in September last year when he stated “For the TIO to be effective, it needs to help consumers, and I’m looking for the TIO to play a bigger role” at an Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) event.

ACCAN has been a strong advocate of giving the TIO more regulative power to charge telcos more to resolve complaints and to award compensation to customers.

The TIO will also make its services more accessible to small businesses with annual turnover under $3 million and up to 20 employees.

For companies which do not meet these conditions, the TIO will still consider the issues in disputes and whether the company is independently owned and funded. Criteria on a small business’ yearly expenditure and the amount in dispute have also been removed.

The changes take effect from 1 July, 2012.

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