New first contact referral process as of 1 October 2013

As advised earlier this month, the TIO will implement a new First Contact Referral Process from 1 October 2013. This new process replaces the current Attempted First Contact Process and First Resort Process.

The new process

Under the new process, when consumers contact the TIO and report they have not yet spoken with you (the provider) or have been unsuccessful in contacting you, our officers will:

  • record the matter and classify it as an Enquiry
  • refer the matter to your nominated TIO referral point
  • give the consumer their TIO reference number, and
  • tell the consumer that you have 15 working days  to contact them and resolve the matter (or for Urgent matters, 2 working days).

Matters referred to you via this new process are classified by the TIO as Enquiries and there will be no direct charge.

It is important to note that in the event the consumer returns to the TIO advising that their matter remains unresolved, we will consider the matter for Conciliation. If a matter requires Conciliation, it will incur a direct Conciliation (Level 2) charge.

Identifying referrals under the new process

It is important that you distinguish between the TIO’s typical Level 1 Complaint Referrals, which you have 10 working days to resolve, and the new First Contact Referrals. The key procedural difference is that a First Contact Referral gives you 15 working days to resolve the matter, or 2 working days for Urgent matters. These timeframes are in line with the TCP Code 2012.

You will be able to identify our First Contact Referral emails by the subject line. The following subject lines are taken from emails generated by our system:

- TIO 2013/09/05175 – CONSUMER NAME - First contact referral notice
- TIO 2013/09/05179 – CONSUMER NAME - Urgent first contact referral notice

Within the referral notice, there will be clear instructions on what is expected of providers, for example:

Action on this referral

Industry requirements for complaint management are stated in section 8.2 of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code.

The Code requires you to:

  • seek to resolve this complaint with [CONSUMER NAME] at first contact
  • advise the consumer of the proposed resolution for the complaint within 15 working days— by xxxx date.

If your attempts to contact the consumer are not successful, please send contact instructions to their nominated postal or email address (and send a copy to nocontact@tio.com.au).


The TIO believes this new approach will significantly improve the consumers’ experience with their provider by reducing complaint fatigue and ensuring complaints are dealt with in a timely manner. We also believe it will reduce the number of Enquiries that return to the TIO as Complaints, which is of benefit for providers and consumers.

If you have any questions about the process, please email members@tio.com.au or call us on 03 8680 8424.