Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman: 2013 - 2014 Annual Report
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Case study

Protecting vulnerable consumers

We stopped a company from taking money out of vulnerable consumers' Centrelink payments. 

Read full case study

Systemic issues

As part of our 2012-15 strategy, we reviewed our approach to systemic issues with the aim of:

  • improving our responsiveness
  • aligning our interventions to broader complaint trends
  • reporting more regularly on outcomes of systemic interventions, and
  • improving our communication of outcomes.

Our Industry Improvement team looked into 270 potentially systemic cases in 2012-13. We intervened in 41 of these cases.

After monitoring the remaining cases, we concluded that either a systemic issue did not exist or no action was needed. 

Type of interventionNumber
Informal approach25
Informal investigation14
Formal investigation2
Monitoring

229

Systemic issues we looked at

We intervened in 41 cases, and some of the issues we found were:

  • consumers having services transferred to new providers after misleading sales calls
  • vulnerable consumers having payments deducted from Centrelink benefits without their knowledge, and
  • product advertising for prepaid plans that didn’t match recharge options.

More information about these examples can be read in our systemic case studies.

Issue*%
Transfers33.9
Billing and payments19.4
Contracts14.5
Credit management9.7
Faults9.7
Complaint handling6.5
Customer service4.8
Connection1.5
View Systemic issues

*As with individual complaints, each systemic case may have more than one issue.

 

Outcomes of our systemic interventions

Most cases were resolved by the service provider fixing a systemic issue after we brought it to their attention. This included:

  • a provider reviewed its telemarketing practices to ensure consumers were giving informed consent to transfer their services
  • a provider aligned its prepaid service advertising information with their recharge options.

More examples of the results of Industry Improvement interventions can be read in our systemic case studies.

Results in numbers

ResultNumber of interventions
Provider resolved issue after TIO recommendation29
Referred to other agency9
Systemic action not appropriate3

Next steps

As part of our  review of the way we deal with systemic issues, we have started to track "issues of interest". These are issues that we believe could affect a number of consumers.

Raising issues of interest with providers helps us prevent problems from becoming systemic. By bringing to the attention of the provider early without making an assessment, we promote collaboration and quick resolution.

After an issue of interest is raised with a provider, it will have four weeks to respond. We may become involved further if the response does not address the issue. 

Case study

Protecting vulnerable consumers

We stopped a company from taking money out of vulnerable consumers' Centrelink payments. 

Read full case study