The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) plays a vital role in helping consumers resolve complaints with phone companies and internet service providers, not all of whom have great reputations. Given the continued slackness evident in many of those operators, the TIO is expanding its role to try and fix issues at industry level.
In the TIO's latest newsletter, ombudsman Simon Cohen outlines the overall vision the TIO has:
We are expanding our roles beyond resolving disputes — which will always remain our primary function — to encompass improving telecommunication services through systemic investigations and capacity building with service providers.
Put more simply, this translates as "We're going to tell communications companies how to stop acting like such idiots/charlatans/pains so that people don't complain about them so much in the first place."
The TIO also released its complaints figures for the first quarter of 2012 today. Of the total 52,231 complaints, almost two-thirds covered mobile phone services. Particularly predominant issues were a lack of spending controls for postpaid plans (4,282 complaints) and complaints over excessive internet usage charges (2,823 complaints). As the chart shows, those complaints have grown steadily over the last two years.
That reinforces the importance of introducing industry-wide regulations; the sooner we get a Telecommunications Consumer Protections code with real teeth, the better.