The conciliation procedure between TIM and the Consumer Associations who signed the framework agreement for the out-of-court settlement of telephone disputes, was the first example of joint conciliation in Italy. Introduced on a trial basis in 1991 by SIP, it was implemented throughout the country in 1993 and in 1995 the European Union recognised it as a “Pilot project for consumer access to justice”. The model is still used today but has been adapted over the years to fulfil new requirements, computerised and made easier to use, while maintaining the basic values that made it such an excellent tool, contributing to improving the transparency of the system, customer relations and a number of the Company’s operational processes. In 2011, the joint conciliation model was brought to the attention of the European Union and, on October 25 of the same year, the European Parliament recognised the “Italian joint conciliation model as an example of best practice based on a protocol drawn up and signed by the Company and consumer protection associations, under which the Company undertakes in advance to use ADR1 to settle any disputes that may arise in the areas covered by the protocol”. Twenty-one Consumer Associations have signed up to the conciliation agreement to date, of which twenty are registered with the CNCU (National Council of Consumers and Users), an organization representing consumer associations and users at national level, chaired by the Ministry of Economic Development, with the task of contributing to the improvement and strengthening of the Consumer/User’s position in the market. Since February 2016, with Directorial Resolution no. 7/16/ADR, the “Equal Conciliation Tim Telecom Italia S.p.A.- Consumer Associations” body has been registered, on a provisional basis, in the list of ADR bodies pursuant to art. 141-octis of the Consumer Code and Annex A of Resolution 661/15/CONS. The registration must be ratified by AGCOM as definitive by 31 June 2017, after the procedure has been adapted to the new legislation in force.
In 2009, in compliance with the voluntary undertakings given and approved by the Italian Communications Authority in December 2008, Telecom Italia also started managing conciliation requests submitted by customers at the offices of Co.Re.Com.2 and the Chambers of Commerce, thus providing a “single point of contact” and replicating the organisational model successfully applied for joint conciliations. This system allows customers who do not wish to approach a Consumer Association to use an alternative method for resolving their dispute through a streamlined and out-of-court procedure.
Than handling of conciliations takes customer requirements into account and, regardless of the selected procedure, allows their relationship with the Company to be improved.
The “single point of contact” model has so far allowed the undertakings given to AGCOM to be fulfilled and the expected qualitative and numerical results to be reached. The Co.Re.Com channel is in fact becoming increasingly popular compared to other channels (recourse to Chambers of Commerce is now secondary and accounts for fewer than 5% of conciliations). The positive trend seen in the conciliation system in previous years continued in 2016 (albeit with a significant increase in the number of cases handled); in fact:
- 98% of the requests for equal conciliation discussed (11,981 out of 12,242) were reconciled, a percentage that is stable year on year despite the 27% increase in the cases discussed in 2016 with respect to the previous year (9,668 in 2015);
- 83.6% of the requests discussed at the Co.Re.Com. and Chambers of Commerce were reconciled (25,053 reconciled out of 29,961 discussed). This percentage has remained high considering the 22.6% increase in the cases discussed with respect to the previous year (24,429 in 2015).
TIM supported the conciliation activity by means of:
- seminars and joint training initiatives involving dedicated personnel from TIM, AGCOM, Co.Re.Com. and Consumer Associations;
- debates, conferences, interviews and other promotional activities involving senior management in order to disseminate the correct cultural approach to the subject.
Conciliation is becoming increasingly widespread among customers, particularly in view of the:
- large number of Co.Re.Com., which are opening provincial offices in many regions to make the conciliation system more easily available to people (avoiding the costs involved in travelling to regional capitals);
- better knowledge of the procedure, which is considered to be a quick and economical way of resolving disputes.
- economic crisis, which leads people to resort to conciliation even for small amounts (e.g. potential inefficiencies involved in transferring from one operator to another).
In Brazil, TIM has close relations with government-run consumer rights associations, including SENACON (National Consumer Protection Secretariat) and PROCONS (Consumer protection and defence programme). Since 2011, the TIM Brasil Group is considered to receive the lowest number of complaints made to PROCONS regarding the telecommunications sector.
In 2014, SENACON launched the Consumer.Gov platform, which makes it easier to resolve customer complaints and simplifies the work done by PROCONS. TIM Brasil was one of the first company to sign up to this platform and has undertaken to resolve the complaints registered on it. Customers can state on the platform if the complaint has been resolved or not and review the quality of the response given by the company. On average, the rating of TIM Brasil was 3.34 on a scale of one to five.
In 2014, TIM Brasil founded the Users Council, one of the tasks of which is to present solutions that improve services to users. Together with the Public Defence Department, the Council has created a new conciliation channel aimed at avoiding complaints being lodged with the courts, providing a free direct line for communication between public defenders and TIM.
In 2016, TIM achieved excellent results in settling claims submitted by PROCON offices: CIPs (Preliminary Investigation Letters) 82%; justified complaints 76%3 TIM also has relationships with consumer protection associations like ABRAREC, IDEC and PROTEST, which promote a culture of good relations between companies and customers, improve training and ensure excellent customer service. TIM also takes part in the conciliation forum between companies and customer defence bodies, for the purpose of resolving conflicts proactively.
1Alternative Dispute Resolution.
2Regional Communication Committees.
3 source: SENACON official report