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Mobile coverage complaints drop as excess data charges rise

17 June 2014

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) received 36,256 new complaints in January-March 2014, 8.7 per cent more than in October-December 2013, but 9.4 per cent fewer than at the same time in 2013, according to TIO Talks, released today.

For the third quarter in a row, the TIO has received fewer than 20,000 complaints about mobile services. Complaints about mobile phones have dropped 19.4 per cent when compared to the same quarter last year.

"The reduction in mobile phone complaints is mainly due to fewer complaints about faults, which have almost halved compared to the same time last year," Ombudsman Simon Cohen said.

An emerging issue in mobile complaints is excess data usage charges. As faults problems such as slow data speeds have decreased 67 per cent compared to the same time last year, disputes over excess data charges have increased 30 per cent.

"The speed of phones and networks has increased and so has the data used by consumers. However, the plans they sign up for may not be matching their needs," Mr Cohen said.

New complaints about internet and landline services increased 20.6 and 15.9 per cent respectively, caused by a higher number of fault and connection related complaints. Year on year, the increases were modest – 4.8 per cent for internet and 2.9 per cent for landline new complaints.

One in three internet disputes where consumers reported a billing issue also included issues with faults or connections. A common theme in these complaints was dissatisfaction with having to pay for a service that was faulty or had not been connected by the agreed date.

"Where services are not connected or operating, it is not fair for consumers to be charged for the service. This has been an emerging issue in the last year," Mr Cohen said.

Other topics covered in TIO Talks include:

  • Mobile apps and in-app purchases charged through consumers' mobile bills should be covered by Mobile Premium Services (MPS) Code, following complaints about apps that are hard to distinguish from MPS, but are not covered by the Code.
  • Victoria, South Australia, and NSW and ACT were the states with the most complaints in proportion to their population. Victorians made 1.8 complaints per 1,000 people; South Australians, 1.7 per 1000; and NSW and ACT residents, 1.6 per 1000.

Read the latest issue of TIO Talks.

Media queries: Mirjana Jovetic, TIO Communications Manager

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