Complaints hotline set up to safeguard the vulnerable

Home offices have been set up around the country, putting telecommunications networks under massive pressure and interrupting service to customers.

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Judi Jones says her department has made special provision for isolated vulnerable and at-risk consumers with the establishment of dedicated phone lines and mandated response times.

The office said in a statement that it is “making plans for an expected increase in urgent complaints from vulnerable and at-risk residential consumers as the COVID-19 pandemic affects Australia’s phone and internet systems”.

It advises those consumers to call 1800 046 686 or 03 8600 8308 for assistance with unresolved phone and internet complaints.

Vulnerable and at-risk issues for residential consumers are identified as:

  • having a serious medical condition, or a registered priority assistance service
  • having an ongoing mobile or internet issue that poses a specific safety risk
  • needing urgent financial hardship support from their provider.

Residential consumers, who have an unresolved phone or internet complaint that is not urgent, are advised to call 1800 062 058 or complain online at www.tio.com.au.

Ms Jones says: “Phone and internet providers are currently facing unprecedented pressure and demand for their services and, in turn, their customers are increasingly reliant on being connected.

“Consumers have a better chance of getting a non-urgent complaints resolved if providers have an opportunity to address the complaint before it is escalated to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

“From Thursday 26 March 2020, the timeframe for providers to respond to non-urgent complaint referrals from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has been extended from 10 to 15 days.

“The timeframe for providers to respond to urgent complaints from vulnerable and at-risk consumers remains unchanged at two business days.

“I understand the frustration of having an unresolved phone or internet complaint at the best of times. We are all facing challenges and are in this together. Please be patient as we try to help those consumers and small businesses who are most in need of assistance.”

Have you been experiencing problems with phone or internet connections since isolation directives were announced?

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Written by Janelle Ward

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