Public awareness of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has more than doubled in the past four years, according to the latest TIO Talks report national survey. However, despite these gains, a whopping 43 percent of respondents remained clueless about the organisation's existence. (That stifled giggle you just heard came from Dodo's headquarters.)
Despairing Caller picture from Shutterstock
For those out of the loop (which is apparently half of you), the TIO is an independent dispute resolution service that steps in when a complaint against an ISP or telco provider has not been sufficiently resolved. The TIO service is free, with all funding provided by the telecommunications industry.
The TIO is able to assist customers in the areas of incorrect billing, faulty telephones, poor customer service, mobile phone contract problems, bill shock and unreliable Internet access. Any potential penalties to the consumer, such as credit default listings or blocked services, are postponed while the dispute is being dealt with, as per the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code.
In its most recent survey, the TIO queried 1000 consumers, of whom just 570 were aware of the service. On the plus side, this is a significant improvement over the 2008 survey where only 36 percent of respondents had heard of TIO.
This leap in awareness can probably be attributed to the new TIO website which launched in 2011 and the publication of online annual reports. Nonetheless, there's still clearly more work to be done.
“Consumers must know about the TIO if they are to use our services. Increased awareness of the TIO improves our effectiveness and makes TIO services available to more Australians,” Ombudsman Simon Cohen said in a statement.
In Q4 last year, the TIO received 38,287 new complaints; a drop of 20.3 percent when compared to the same period in 2011. Complaints about billing, customer service, complaint handling, credit management and contracts all received substantial drops.
“It is positive to see substantially fewer new complaints than 12 months ago,” Mr Cohen said. “Fewer customer service and billing issues in particular suggest consumers have found it easier to resolve common telco complaints during 2012.”
You can read the latest TIO Talks report here.
Have you ever used the TIO to resolve a dispute with a telco? How did you find the process? Share your experiences in the comments below.