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Credit management issues a key focus for the TIO

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), Simon Cohen, has cited credit management issues as a key problem area for the telecommunications industry, after the busiest quarter for new TIO complaints on record.

In the latest edition of TIO Talks, Mr Cohen reports on credit management issues where there was an 11.4 per cent increase in new complaints between January and March 2011.

This quarterly increase comes on the back of a 36 per cent increase in credit management issues last financial year.

Credit management issues are often a result of consumers who don’t understand the service they have contracted for, or the charges they will incur. 
These consumers receive bills that are too expensive to afford. As a result, their services may be disconnected or suspended, and their details lodged with a credit reporting agency.

"It is an all too familiar cycle," Mr Cohen said.

"Credit management issues are particularly concerning because consumers most affected are often also the most vulnerable or disadvantaged."

"Telephone and internet companies need to do more to make sure consumers are given the right information up front, and provided the right tools to monitor their usage and charges."

59,532 new complaints were made to the TIO in the first quarter of 2011, an increase of 31 per cent on the previous quarter.

Vodafone customers made 14,670 new complaints to the TIO, an increase of 96 per cent from the previous quarter.

However, new complaints for most large service providers increased.

"The sharp rise in new complaints to the TIO point to a grim quarter for consumers," Mr Cohen said.

"We have never received so many complaints. We received increased complaints about landlines, internet services and a 50 per cent increase in mobile telephone complaints. Additionally, most categories of complaint – including billing, faults, contracts and credit management – increased."

In addition, TIO Talks includes:

  • What the consumer should consider when entering a direct debit contract
  • What you should know about changes to geographical numbering
  • The TIO’s outreach activities to vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers.