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Telecommunications complaints increase 9 per cent, TIO reports

There has been a disappointing 9 per cent increase in new complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), as reported in the latest issue of TIO Talks, released today. The rise in complaints had mostly been driven by a 20% increase in mobile phone service issues.

The Ombudsman’s office received 87,264 new complaints between 1 July and December 31 2010, up 6,957 on the first half of 2010. Ombudsman Simon Cohen said: “The increase, entirely reversing the positive trend seen in the first half of 2010, is extremely disappointing.”

New complaints about Vodafone were up 5,370 in the second half of 2010 – an increase of 96 per cent. Apart from mobile telephone coverage issues, Vodafone customers complained about long wait times, failing to act on promises and not being able to contact Vodafone at all.

“Customer frustration with Vodafone is understandable,” Mr Cohen said. ‘It is one thing to have a service problem. But what is particularly concerning is when consumers cannot contact someone to have their problems sorted out.”

TIO Talks also reports on the intricacies of international roaming for mobile phones. These charges are one of the causes of telephone bill shock.

“Using a mobile telephone overseas can be very expensive. Consumers can be liable for not only for calls they make, but also for calls they receive, and for data downloads from using a GPS,” Mr Cohen said.

TIO Talks includes questions consumers should ask their telephone company if they don’t understand the possible costs of international roaming.

In addition TIO Talks also includes:

  • advice on contacting the TIO’s dedicated hotline – 1800 046 686 – for consumers affected by natural disasters
  • an update on revised laws and codes to better protect consumers of telephone and internet services
  • information about TIO outreach to regional and indigenous consumers.