Monday, 24 September 2012 07:28

No need for consumers to pay for dispute resolution – Ombudsman

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The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) is supporting recommendations made by NSW’s Energy and Water Ombudsman to raise awareness of free Ombudsman services to consumers who are thinking about using a Credit Repair Agency.

“The TIO is a fast, free and fair way for consumers to have their telco complaints resolved,” Ombudsman Simon Cohen says. “It is clearly preferable that consumers know they have the option to contact an Ombudsman themselves, at no charge, to have the fairness of charges and default listings examined.”

While telecommunications service providers are required to inform consumers about the TIO as an avenue for dispute resolution, there is no such requirement placed on credit repair agencies. A recent review of complaints about credit management issues suggests about one in ten of these complaints are made by credit repair agencies on behalf of these consumers.

“Credit repair agencies bring credit default and debt dispute complaints to the TIO to resolve, and then charge the consumer,” Mr Cohen said. “Using a credit repair agency is definitely more expensive way for consumers already facing financial hardship to have credit default listings removed, and it can also take longer.”

The TIO has seen increasing complaints about credit management issues, including about disputed debts and credit default listings. In many cases, consumers were not aware they had been default listed and upon investigation by the TIO the service providers were unable to demonstrate they had followed the correct notification procedures and the defaults were removed.

Complaints about telco carriers are widespread, and in very many cases, justified. Consumers in many cases don’t know where to turn and have to live with their frustrations. The TIO is a big help, but it is underfunded and not enough people know about it. It needs more funding from government.


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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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