The Australian Communications and Media Authority has issued a remedial direction to Planet ISP Pty Ltd (Planet ISP) for failure to comply with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) Scheme.
The TIO referred this matter to the ACMA because Planet ISP had failed to comply with an earlier TIO Determination requiring the company to refund more than $5,000 for international call charges to a customer who reported his phone stolen while overseas. Both the TIO and ACMA have liaised informally with Planet ISP on this matter, without success.
Planet ISP must comply with the remedial direction by refunding the money to the customer.
‘The direction signals to both Planet ISP, and the industry more widely that a TIO determination is a key component of the current regulatory arrangements and is not to be disregarded,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.
'All members of the TIO Scheme have an obligation to comply with its requirements, as well as the responsibilities set out in legislation that governs the industry,' Mr Chapman said.
The TIO Scheme was established as part of the co-regulatory regime in the telecommunications industry, specifically to deal with complaints by residential and small business customers of carriage service providers.
The investigation report is available here.
For more information, please see the Backgrounder below, or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media release 77/2014 - 9 December
The TIO Scheme
The TIO is a free and independent alternative dispute resolution scheme for small business and residential consumers in Australia with unresolved complaints about their telephone or internet services. The TIO is independent of industry, the government and consumer organisations.
Where a consumer has a complaint, they should first contact the service provider that provides the service. Service providers are required to provide information to consumers on how they can make a complaint. Complaint handling processes must be accessible to all customers, including people with disabilities and those from non-English-speaking backgrounds.
If the consumer is dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint, the service provider must advise them of their further options. Where appropriate, consumers are entitled to escalate their complaint within the provider organisation, and if they are still dissatisfied they can contact the TIO.
The scheme allows the TIO to investigate, make determinations and give directions relating to complaints made by end-users about the provision or supply of telephone or internet services.
Members of the TIO scheme must comply with the scheme, which means they agree to comply with the TIO Memorandum and Articles of Association and the TIO Constitution. For example, a requirement under the Constitution is that where the TIO issues a determination, the member must implement that determination in the manner, and within the period, specified.
The TIO has a policy and procedure for referring issues to ACMA under Part 6 of the TCPSS Act.
ACMA has the power under the Telecommunications Act 1997 to issue remedial directions to carriage service providers that contravene service provider rules. This includes a failure to comply with a TIO determination.
If a remedial direction is not complied with, the ACMA has a range of options including an infringement notice or Federal Court action to seek civil penalties and/or performance injunctions.
ACMA's approach to compliance and enforcement employs a graduated use of regulatory measures focused on using the appropriate power or intervention necessary to achieve the desired result. On this occasion, given its commitment to consumer protection, ACMA has determined that the issuing of a remedial direction to Planet ISP is the appropriate course of action.