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Collaborating for customer rights in TIM

The conciliation procedure between TIM and the consumer protection associations who signed the framework agreement for the out-of-court settlement of telephone disputes, was the first example of joint conciliation in Italy (operational in 1993 throughout the national territory). In 2011, the European Parliament recognized “Italian joint conciliation” as an example of best practice based on the protocol signed by the Company and Consumer Associations, where the Company undertakes to use an alternative procedure to resolve disputes that may arise between company and consumer, known as “Alternative Disputes Resolution” (ADR). In December 2019, 22 consumer associations signed up to the conciliation agreement, 19 of which registered with the CNCU (National Council of Consumers and Users), an organisation representing consumer associations - chaired by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development - with the task of contributing to improving and strengthening consumer satisfaction levels.

In 2016, on entry into force of Legislative Decree No.130/2015, implementing European Directive No. 2013/11/EU, the Italian legislator made an important choice by counting “joint conciliations” in ADR procedures, completely reforming the original Art. 141 of the Consumer Code. By virtue of this new European and national regulatory framework, the TIM-Consumer Association Joint Conciliation Procedure was:

  • recognized as an “ADR Body” possessing the requisites of stability, efficiency and impartiality required by the regulatory framework;
  • registered on the list of recognized ADR Bodies, established by the AGCom (Italian Communications Authority) on June 30, 2017.

The basis for the dissemination and success of the conciliation procedure is:

  • it is a free model;
  • ·speed of the process;
  • the mandatory requirement to seek recourse to conciliation as a prerequisite for judicial requests to proceed.

Undoubtedly, conciliation is successful also thanks to the good relationships built up and maintained over the years with consumer associations which, as stakeholders of the Company, have always provided a wealth of useful information on critical consumer issues to the company through their contributions.

Following the establishment of the ADR Body, there was a revision of the Joint Conciliation Regulation and the application methods of the unitary conciliation protocol established between TIM and the Consumer Associations registered at the CNCU. 

A new collaboration agreement (already partly presented in December 2019) with some of the main Associations – those who are most collaborative, involved and engaged in debates on electronic communication – will be launched by 2020, with the aim of more effectively combining the interests of the company with the needs of consumers. In this respect, thanks to this agreement great emphasis will be placed on strengthening the dialog concerning the most sensitive issues for the consumer, such as the new 5G technology. In addition, and again with the aim of best consolidating the agreement between the Associations and the Operator, the introduction of a new channel for handling consumers’ complaints addressed to TIM and submitted to the Consumer Associations has been guaranteed.

 

The other TIM conciliation systems

Since 2009, in compliance with the voluntary undertakings given and approved by the AGCom in 2008, TIM has also been managing conciliation requests at Co.Re.Com (Regional Communication Committees) and Chamber of Commerce offices (until June 2018), replicating the organizational model successfully applied for joint conciliations. In this way, customers can choose to use the consumer associations or take advantage of alternative paths through Co.Re.Com to settle any disputes with the Company out of court.

In light of Resolution 203/18/CONS "Approval of the regulation on dispute resolution procedures between users and operators of electronic communications", from July 2018 AGCom has introduced the new conciliation management system "ConciliaWeb", developed by the Authority which had also established procedures for the on-line presentation and management of the conciliation event for customers. Beyond the choice of procedure by the customer, theunderlying aspect of the conciliation is always the customer’s needs, making it possible to build up a good relationship between the customer and the Company.

To date, the conciliation model has achieved high qualitative and quantitative results; specifically, in 2019 the use of the Co.Re.Com channel continued to see significant figures, accounting for 72.5% of the conciliations discussed, while the Joint channel accounted for 27.5% of the requests discussed (the Chamber of Commerce channel was closed in July 2018).

The positive trend seen in the conciliation system in previous years continued in 2019 (albeit with a significant increase in the number of cases discussed, equal to 68,465, an increase of 16.4% compared to 2018); in fact:

  • 97% of the applications for joint conciliation (18,249 conciliated out of 18,820 discussed), a stable percentage year on year despite an increase in the applications discussed again this year (+11.6% compared to 2018);
  • 83.3% of the requests discussed at the Co.Re.Com (41,372 reconciled out of 49,645 discussed). This percentage remained high in 2019, also considering the 19.5% increase in the cases discussed compared to the previous year (41,554 in 2018).

TIM supported the conciliation activity through:

  • the seminars and joint training initiatives involving dedicated personnel from TIM, AGCom, Co.Re.Com. and Consumer Associations;
  • the debates, conferences, interviews and the 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:

  • better knowledge of the procedure (both joint and conciliaweb) which is considered to be a quick and economical way of resolving disputes;
  • economic crisis that leads to conciliation even for marginal amounts;
  • the widespread territorial presence of Co.Re.Com and the various Consumer Associations, able to bring the conciliation tool increasingly closer to the local needs of consumers.