TIO cracks down on small business complaints

 

Fewer businesses will qualify for free telco dispute resolution.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has revealed plans to change its investigation criteria in a bid to stop larger businesses from taking advantage of its free complaint resolution service.

The changes to the way the TIO defines "small businesses" are partly a response to the sharp rise in complaints about telecommunications lodged by businesses.

The ombudsman - set up to field only complaints from residents and small businesses - will continue to field complaints from businesses that have 20 or less full-time employees and an annual turnover less than $3 million.

However, the TIO said it would no longer consider a business’ annual telco spend - currently set at $20,000 per provider - as an “active criteria” in determining whether or not the business qualified for the TIO's services.

The TIO would instead consider the business's ownership and whether its managers “contribute most of the operating capital” in order to judge whether it should be judged a "small business" under TIO rules.

Ombudsman Simon Cohen said each of the new criteria would be flexible on a case-by-case basis.

Cohen told iTnews the organisation was under no pressure to curb the number of complaints it received but hoped to refine the TIO’s investigative scope.

“If the dispute was one that is substantially outside what we’re able to make a decision or recommendation about, then we’d explain it to the small business and explain that the option of coming to us might not be the best option given the nature of the problem that they have,” he said.

That scope was widened significantly in May 2010, when the TIO gained powers to make compensation directives to telcos of up to $30,000 in a complaint or a recommendation of up to $85,000.

“The primary thing that’s driven us to look at the criteria is to acknowledge that the nature of telecommunication use by small business is changing,” Cohen said.

“The fact that the service that they’re being provided is changing leaves us, as a matter of good practice, to think about whether we’re remaining relevant to them.

“That includes not only the sorts of disputes we can deal with but the sorts of complaints that we deal with but the sorts of business that can make complaints.”

Complaints skyrocket

The changed criteria comes in response to a marked rise in complaints from small businesses, which saw figures increase 52 percent between the 2009 and 2010 financial years to 22,836 new complaints.

Small businesses accounted for 13 percent of all new complaints lodged with the TIO between July and December 2011, up from 11 percent over the 2010 financial year.

The TIO attributed the rise in complaints to online-only businesses which relied on internet connections and increasingly mobile broadband and smartphone services to operate.

The new claims were largely about inadequate customer service, poor mobile coverage and complaint resolution.

Investigations fall

Despite an increase in the number of small business complaints, enquiries and investigations overall (for individuals and small businesses) dropped for the fourth quarter of the 2011 calendar year.

The ombudsman recorded a total of 48,100 ‘new complaints’ - many of which did not require further intervention from the TIO - down from 51,196 complaints fielded in the previous quarter.

The first quarter of the year - coinciding with a significant increase in complaints about Vodafone’s network - remained the peak quarter at nearly 60,000 new complaints.

But the number of level three investigations - requiring further investigation - across the fourth quarter dropped significantly from 208 investigations, to 64.

The ombudsman did not undertake any level four investigations - requiring a final direction or decision by the TIO - during the quarter, down from 33 investigations between July and September.

“Decreased investigations stand out this quarter as a significant achievement,” Ombudsman Simon Cohen said.

“Conciliation and other business improvements by the TIO, along with good engagement by service providers and consumers, means faster resolutions and fewer cases that require detailed investigation.”

Cohen told iTnews last year that continued drops in required investigations had come as a result of streamlined processes within the organisation.

Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.


TIO cracks down on small business complaints
 
 
 
Top Stories
Frugality as a service: the Amazon story
Behind the scenes, Amazon Web Services is one lean machine.
 
Negotiating with the cloud email megavendors
[Blog post] Lessons from Woolworths’ mammoth migration.
 
Qld govt to move up to 149k staff onto Office 365
Australia's largest deployment, outside of the universities.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...

Latest VideosSee all videos »

The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
Scott Noteboom, CEO of LitBit speaking at The Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2014 in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. http://bit.ly/1qpxVfV Scott Noteboom is a data centre engineer who led builds for Apple and Yahoo in the earliest days of the cloud, and who now eyes Asia as the next big opportunity. Read more: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/372482,how-do-we-serve-three-billion-new-internet-users.aspx#ixzz2yNLmMG5C
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
To COTS or not to COTS? iTnews asks Karl Maftoum, CIO of the ACMA, at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
AEMO chief information officer Susan Sly calls for more collaboration among Australia's technology leaders at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Credit Union Australia's David Gee awarded Finance CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards.
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Damon Rees named Retail CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Woolworths.
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Acting Foxtel CIO David Marks accepts an iTnews Benchmark Award on behalf of Robyn Elliott.
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Sanjay Mehta named Industrial CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at ConocoPhillips.
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Greg Wells named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at NSW Health.
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
William Confalonieri named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Deakin University.
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
David Johnson named Government CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at the Queensland Police Service.
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott discuss the Coalition's broadband policy with the press.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
The Australian Federal Police have arrested a Sydney-based IT security professional for hacking a government website.
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO Chrissy Burns talks data.
New UTS Building: the IT within
New UTS Building: the IT within
The IT behind tomorrow's universities.
iTnews' NBN Panel
iTnews' NBN Panel
Is your enterprise NBN-ready?
Introducing iTnews Labs
Introducing iTnews Labs
See a timelapse of the iTnews labs being unboxed, set up and switched on! iTnews will produce independent testing of the latest enterprise software to hit the market after installing a purpose-built test lab in Sydney. Watch the installation of two DL380p servers, two HP StoreVirtual 4330 storage arrays and two HP ProCurve 2920 switches.
The True Cost of BYOD
The True Cost of BYOD
iTnews' Brett Winterford gives attendees of the first 'Touch Tomorrow' event in Brisbane a brief look at his research into enterprise mobility. What are the use cases and how can they be quantified? What price should you expect to pay for securing mobile access to corporate applications? What's coming around the corner?
Ghost clouds
Ghost clouds
ACMA chair Chris Chapman says there is uncertainty over whether certain classes of cloud service providers are caught by regulations.
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Privacy experts David Vaile (UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre) and Craig Scroggie (CEO, NextDC) claim they were not surprised by the Snowden leaks about the NSA's PRISM program.
Latest articles on BIT Latest Articles from BIT
Another phone with Telstra's Blue Tick: The Samsung Galaxy S5
Apr 8, 2014
Samsung's latest flagship phone joins Telstra's list of recommended handsets for customers in ...
Run an online shop? This might be worth bookmarking
Mar 28, 2014
Things like Australian safety standards are probably the last thing on your mind, but just ...
Vodafone switches on 4G in Tasmania: list of locations
Mar 28, 2014
See a list of locations in Tasmania that now have access to 4G via Vodafone's network.
Samsung Galaxy S5 on sale from Telstra next month for $912
Mar 27, 2014
It's not cheap, but if you are looking to upgrade your phone then the Samsung Galaxy S5 could be ...
What Australian workplaces actually rely on tablet computers?
Mar 14, 2014
If you're curious about where tablets are being used at work, here are three examples.
Latest Comments
Polls
Which bank is most likely to suffer an RBS-style meltdown?





   |   View results
ANZ
  21%
 
Bankwest
  9%
 
CommBank
  11%
 
National Australia Bank
  17%
 
Suncorp
  24%
 
Westpac
  19%
TOTAL VOTES: 1445

Vote