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Complaints about telecommunications and utilities


This information covers how to make complaints about:

  • telephone and internet service providers
  • gas/electricity/water service providers.

What should I do if I have a complaint about a telephone or internet provider?

You should first try to resolve the complaint directly with the company.

If direct resolution with the company fails you can make a complaint to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman on 1800 062 058.

What is the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)?

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) is a free and independent alternative dispute resolution scheme for residential consumers and small business in Australia with unresolved complaints about their telephone or internet service.

When can the TIO help with complaints?

Before contacting the TIO, it would prefer you contact your service provider first to try to resolve your complaint with them. See the TIO website under the heading Making a complaint for a checklist to see if the TIO can help in your case or ring the TIO Hotline for complaints and enquiries on 1800 062 058.  

Do time limits apply?

Time limits apply. Your complaint should be lodged within two years of becoming aware of the circumstances surrounding the complaint. This time may be extended to six years in some circumstances.

What if the TIO can't help?

Other bodies that may be able to assist are listed on the TIO website.

Is there a government agency that may be able to help me with my complaint?

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) may be able to help in resolving a complaint with a business, or if you think a business may be breaking consumer protection and fair trading laws. Contact the ACCC Infocentre on 1300 302 502. If it cannot help, it can provide you with contact details for the most appropriate agency to assist you.

Where can I find out about my rights in relation to telecommunication services?

The Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code is a code of conduct designed to ensure good service and fair outcomes for all consumers of telecommunications products in Australia. All carriage service providers who supply telecommunications products to customers in Australia are now required to observe and comply with the code. 

The code covers:

  • consumer sales, service and contracts including advertising and selling practices
  • billing including charging policies, payment options, and direct debit
  • credit and debt management including denial and restriction of access to telecommunication services for credit related reasons and the application of the financial hardship policies
  • changing suppliers of telecommunication services
  • complaint handling including what consumers are entitled to from suppliers and what suppliers must do and the role of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) if your dispute can't be resolved with the supplier, and
  • code compliance and monitoring.

A guide to your phone and internet rights as a consumer under the code, Making the Right Call, has been prepared by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.

What steps can I take can take if I have a complaint about an electricity/gas/water service provider in WA?

As a first step it is a good idea to try to solve the problem by contacting the electricity, water or gas company concerned. Electricity, water and gas companies have internal complaint resolution procedures that may help resolve your complaint.

The Code of Conduct for the Supply of Electricity to Small Use Customers (Code) regulates and controls the conduct of retailers, distributors and electricity marketing agents who supply electricity to residential and small business customers. It includes a part on payment difficulties and financial hardship.

What if an internal complaint is not resolved satisfactorily?

If you remain dissatisfied after making a complaint to the gas, water or electricity company you may contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman (WA) and make a complaint. It can be oral (in person or by phone) or in writing (email, online, or by letter).

The Energy and Water Ombudsman receives, investigates and facilitates the resolution of complaints from residential and small business customers about their electricity, water or gas company.

What if I do not want to complain to the company directly first?

If there are special reasons why you do not want to make a complaint to the gas, water or electricity company first, you can complain directly to the Energy and Water Ombudsman who will decide whether to investigate or direct you back to the company.

Are there complaints the Energy and Water Ombudsman can't deal with?

Go to the Energy and Water Ombudsman (WA) for more information on when the Energy and Water Ombudsman can investigate and what it can't do.

Do time limits apply?

Yes. The complaint must have arisen from events which became known to you less than one year before the complaint is lodged unless the Energy and Water Ombudsman decides otherwise.

What if I am having trouble paying my utilities bills?

If you are having trouble paying your utilities bills (gas, water, or electricity) due to financial hardship you may be able to get assistance from  the WA Government Hardship Utilities Grant Scheme (HUGS). More information about this is available at the Department for Child Protection and Family Support Protection website. 

Where can I get more information?

  • Contact the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on 1300 302 502  for information on avoiding traps and choosing a telecommunications service that suits you. The ACCC may be able to assist in resolving a complaint with a business or if you think the business may be breaking consumer protection laws. If it cannot help it may be able to refer you to an appropriate agency. 
  • Visit the Australian Communications and Media Authority website and see under the heading Consumer and community advice for more information on rights and safeguards including factsheets. Some information is available in languages other than English.
  • Visit the MoneySmart website for information on buying a mobile.
  • Contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman on 1800 062 058 (free from landlines; standard mobile call rates from a mobile) for a free and independent alternative dispute resolution scheme for small business and residential consumers in Australia who have a complaint about their telephone or internet service.
  • Contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman Western Australia on (08) 9220 7588 or 1800 754 004 (calls from mobile phones will be charged at the applicable rate) for information about making a complaint including tips.
  • Contact the Department of Commerce WA- Consumer Protection division on 1300 304 054 for help to resolve your complaints with traders or business in Western Australia including online information on how to make a complaint.
  • Visit the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network website to access a number of resources to help consumers.

Last reviewed: 14/11/2014

Last Modified: 13/02/2015


The material displayed on this page is intended for information only. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia believes that the information provided is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions.