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TIO report calls for new rules to better protect telco consumers

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Media Release

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) today released the report ‘A time for change – Three years of systemic investigations in review, calling for improved consumer protections through stronger regulation in the telco sector, and the establishment of a registration scheme for telcos.

The report reveals the TIO continues to see systemic issues involving one-size-fits-all processes, providers failing to meet or understand their legal obligations, and poor sales practices. These issues can lead to unintended consequences for consumers, including financial pressure and significant distress.

The current rules in the telecommunications sector are no longer fit for purpose. Industry guidelines and industry-made codes lack clear and mandatory obligations. Until this changes and direct regulation takes its place, some telcos will continue to fail to meet the needs and expectations of consumers.

The report also highlights the positive impacts systemic investigations have made in the telecommunications sector. Over the past three years, telcos have made 274 individual improvements resulting from the TIO’s investigations.

The report makes four key recommendations where the telecommunications regulatory framework and industry could evolve. These recommendations aim to reduce and prevent problems from reoccurring, and provide better protection for consumers who are vulnerable.

The four recommendations are:

  • Telcos need to do more to reduce barriers for consumers seeking help.
  • Improved regulation would help reduce unexpected debt and financial hardship.
  • Direct regulation should play a primary role in protecting consumers that are vulnerable.
  • A telco registration scheme with minimum entry requirements would protect consumers.

Quotes attributable to Ombudsman Cynthia Gebert:

“These recommendations are a focal point for our efforts when considering the adequacy of consumer protections in a changing communications market. Comprehensive consumer protections are vital because telco services are essential to participating in everyday life.”

“The issues we have seen over the last three years that have led to our recommendations are concerning enough. But when considered against the backdrop of the current economic climate, the need for reform takes on a new urgency.”

“The issues we have identified in this report are not simply words on a page, they are harms experienced by real people.”

“The current telco framework is no longer fit for purpose. Direct regulation should be front and centre to protect all consumers – particularly those with vulnerabilities who may otherwise fall through the cracks.”

About the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman provides a free and independent dispute resolution service for people and small businesses who have an unresolved complaint about their phone or internet service.

Consumers and small businesses should contact or 1800 062 058.


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  1. New England Cocky

    These four (4) recommendations are sensible, but consider the impact on present practices.
    (1) Telcos need to do more to reduce barriers for consumers seeking help.
    No more ”Telstra Tag” with subscribers being passed around numerous underemployed call centre staff lacking the necessary information to answer your simple enquiry. WQhy you may be able to get a sensible answer in less than two days.
    2) Improved regulation would help reduce unexpected debt and financial hardship.
    Telstra budget being squeezed by too many perks for executive administrators? Simple solution; up the charging rate for all calls unilaterally and jack up rates for specific line servicing so that subscribers know that they are paying for the phone service.
    3) Direct regulation should play a primary role in protecting consumers that are vulnerable.
    Now why would Telstra executives want to protect vulnerable subscribers? That could possibly reduce the funds available for annual incentives for doing the job for which they are being paid.
    4) A telco registration scheme with minimum entry requirements would protect consumers.
    What?? That would mean that actual mobile phone coverage would have to work by giving a clear signal everywhere, black spots would have to be remedied and farmers would be able to use mobile phones everywhere on their properties rather than standing on one leg outside the long drop toilet at the shearing shed.

    Obviously I have been too exposed to nine (9) years of COALition government ”service standards”. Anybody for Secret Seven ministries to further confuse government administration?

  2. Clakka

    Around 21st May, I received a call from Telstra seeking to review my ‘plan’. They proved credentials. Spent more than half our changing to minimise cost, and confirming savings, and new ‘plan’.

    Received no email confirmation. Received only within minutes of the call concluding, push-marketing from associated company ( seeking to sell me an eftpos card reader – which I don’t need.

    A week later I spent 4 hours on phone with Telstra – they had no record of my changed ‘plan’.
    Despite me for years being able to log in and review my schemes / usages etc through Telstra’s online portal, I could no longer.
    I had to re-establish an ID and log-on password etc.
    Via phone made changes to ‘plan’ seeking to minimise (still have not received confirmation of $rates / plan)
    Plan options for Telstra/NBN Internet have been reduced from 5 to 2 – I had been pushed into the less expensive plan (dearer than billed at that time), a plan I had never been advised on.
    New portal is an absolute shemozzle.
    Seems like price gouging by stealth.

    I won’t be deterred, I shall get to the bottom of it!

  3. Williambtm

    Telstra as an Australian national Internet Services Provider cannot claim its services are safe & secure any longer due to the known criminal like hacking interventions, along with E.G. the altering of binary-coded programming text to create a negative effect that causes harms & confusions to an owner of a since altered or hacked computer.

    Ask yourself who it is that provides the carriage of all that is electorinically transmitted into one’s home or one’s business operations that will effect its planned undertakings, via its “invisible” WI-FI charged atmospheric energised environment, or be it through Telstra’s underground networked wiring system installed into its customer’s homes & or its business owners.

    The referred to alterrTOIONSas well as all our nation’s corporate commercial businesss: via their Internet Services Provision for email corespondence and all of today’s electronic tele-communicating devices.

    Hence those who are paying for a Wi-Fi internet access plan or program, are paying for a non-visible, nil-solid in its, embodiment, in fact nothing that the human sensory organs: taste, touch, smell, sight, or even an auditory signature cannot be acsertained due to its fluctuating tendencies at differing times during one’s day.
    My having become a person best described as “incommunicado” through & by the auspices of an Australian State government’s sinister authorative actions & its bigoted decision-making powers that can be identified as criminal actions.

    My incommunicado ‘status’ was found due to the insertion of a pre-planned program-altering Trojan Horse, this same was accessible to an unnamed third party via its interceptions of both my emails and typed up informative letters of correspondence.
    Think of the most distant of our nation’s States… from this Tasmanian State. Yes I know the State governmemt responsible for its reprehensible criminal-like undertakings.
    One has since learned the best & most secure means for corresponding, is via the almost completely discarded facility of faxing ones informational transmissions.

    My spare time nowadays is occupied since my becoming the legal advocate representing a disabled women in that distant scandal-riddled State.
    The litigating party is per a disreputable international law firm & and that particular State’s dishonourable government authorities.

  4. leefe


    I have found in the past that the only thing that gets swift action from Telstra is to threaten them with taking the matter to the TIO. You don’t have to actually do it, although it is more effective if you copy them in on your report to the Ombudsman.

  5. Joe Abby

    The whole industry needs a massive shake up imo

    Another gripe I have with Telstra is their current advertising campaign which states things like
    “why did WE build Australia’s best network?”
    Well THEY DIDNT the Commonwealth did and after privatisation which we had no say in now claim to be the almighty telco for Ozzies
    give me a break

  6. Clakka

    Leefe, Thanks for your advice.

    About 2.5 years ago I moved from Melb burbs to regional Vic. Accordingly, beforehand, I did my research, and found to my delight that my new address had FTTC. To be sure, I also used ‘Dial B4 You Dig’ to ascertain all the services locations and availability – there was indeed a plethora of services as I am in the CBD, adjacent the P.O., Shire Council HQ, local bank, and Telstra’s local exchange. I put in my ‘move order’ with Telstra (who have been my telco for 20+ years). Naturally, I took screen shots, and other records for evidence.

    Of course, the reality was, that the infrastructure to the premises was out of the ark (early PMG), and was not connected or connectable, as it was degraded copper, toxic lead and asbestos etc. It took more than 6 months to have the infrastructure connected, during which time I was shuffled between NBN and Telstra, each seeking to pass-the-buck. Naturally, I kept everyone of them informed – more than 100 phone calls & SMSs, and I maintained a (date / time) written log of everything (and of course their names).

    I had been entrapped in the industrial disputation between NBN & Telstra linesmen / tech industrial disputes, so funnily enough I was being told many lies. I went to the TIO ombudsman, but that was useless for two reasons, 1. My account was a business account, and 2. They were not able to address issues with NBN. Telstra sought to have me connect via FTTN, I wasn’t having a bar of that inferior service.

    To get NBN to take action on the replacement of the in-ground infrastructure, I elected to finally pull the ‘critical illness’ card. They were here within 2 days, and removed the old, and put in the new infrastructure within a day. It then took Telstra techs / lineys 6 more visits over 8 weeks to get the system connected and in proper operation.

    It’s now for me whizz-bang as it ought be. However, I observe that (Telstra & NBN) wherever they can get their mits, are still pulling deceptive stunts with consumers, new, or those seeking change. Now with Telstra having subsumed NBN and controlling all terrestrial infrastructure, any telcos’ consumers can be bound up with similar problems.

    It’s an utter disgrace.

  7. andyfiftysix

    they are all patchup jobs. We suffer from something called TYRANY OF DISTANCE. Capitalism has NO ANSWERS for this problem. We have know this for a few hundred years yet every now and then our “masters” suck up too much of the local water and do shit stuff like privatise TELECOM. 5 companies pulling profit and overheads doing the same job is always going to result in over priced and under delivered services. Thats why we are now down to 2. Three sets of towers when only one is needed. Manufactured competition when a natural monoploy is always the direction your heading.
    After supply and demand, SCALE is a fundamental of modern economics. Scale alone has driven our modern lives . Look how everything we buy is made on scale and relatively cheap. How fucked up is your logic when you cant see the wood from the trees. Its been an intellectual fraud perpetrated by the IPA agenda.

    Clakka, in my home in thailand i have had fibre to the house for 6yrs. It cost me around $100 for them to run a line 1.2km and set up the free router. I pay roughly $30 a month for unlimited with 750mb/s down and 750mb/s up. Yes, we have higher wages here but electrons all cost the same. Data all costs the same. Dont get me started on “higher standards”. They mean nothing when you got no service at inflated prices.

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