We are funded by telecommunications service providers, which are required to be members of the TIO. Fees are charged only against those companies about which we receive complaints. Our fees are based on recovering the costs for services provided, and are not designed to be punitive.
Prior to 1 July 2010, our invoices were issued to service providers on a quarterly-in-advance basis. This method included invoicing service providers for a forward estimate of their complaints for the following quarter, based on budgets and past data. Each invoice also included a reconciliation of past estimates with actual complaints. This was a legacy of our origins as a small organisation with irregular cash flows.
From July 1 2010, we overhauled of the way we charged members for complaint handling – moving away from a quarterly-in-advance invoicing arrangement to monthly-in-arrears.
This is a much simpler method of invoicing service providers, providing a much clearer link between complaints handled by the TIO, and the costs of those complaints to TIO members.
This process is fairer. Smaller businesses will find it easier to manage their own cash. It also means that the TIO can provide real-time feedback to the industry, reflecting its fast moving nature.
From 1 July 2010, we also waived the first Level 1 complaint charge per month and the first four Level 2 complaint charges per financial year. This provides the benefit of assisting companies who are new to the scheme to understand our processes and resolve matters with their customers rather than having to focus on complaint handling fees.
Up until 1 January 2011, we would sometimes bill service providers more than once for complaint we had referred to them to resolve, and where the consumer contacted us for further information or advice.
This charge was removed to simplify and have more efficient decision making when consumers re-contact us. It is also fairer for service providers who now will be billed only once for new complaints we refer.