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Telco complaints drop to seven-year low

16 December 2014

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) received 30,539 new complaints in July-September 2014, the lowest number in seven years, according to TIO Talks, released today.

The results are part of a downward trend in telco complaints. New complaints to the TIO in July-September 2014 were 9.1 per cent fewer than in April-June 2014, and 14.6 per cent lower than in the same period in 2013.

"I welcome this continuing drop in complaints," Ombudsman Simon Cohen said. "It is encouraging to see that one of the biggest issues for the last financial year, excess data charges, is also trending down."

Complaints about excess data charges, the top issue brought to the TIO by mobile users, dropped by 13.1 per cent compared to the previous quarter — from 2,886 to 2,508. The median dispute over excess data charges was $373.

Excess data charges became the top issue that mobile users brought to the TIO in 2013-14, overtaking coverage. The increase in complaints came at a time of increased use of data on mobile devices. Improvements to handsets and mobile networks, including the rollout of 4G technology, have allowed consumers to download more data, more quickly.

The Ombudsman supported calls from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for parents to watch their children’s mobile and internet use to avoid high excess data charges.

“Keep an eye on your children’s internet use these holidays, and look out for any usage alerts from your provider” Mr Cohen said. “If you do go over you allowance, get in touch with your provider to find out what options are available to you, such as data packs.”

Another area where complaints are decreasing is the National Broadband Network (NBN). The TIO received 1,229 NBN-related new complaints in July-September 2014, with complaints decreasing each month over the quarter. 

Other stories in TIO Talks include:

  • The TIO is undertaking a review of the TIO’s fee structure. The review was in its early stages and expected to be completed by mid-2015.
  • The Ombudsman has welcomed action by the ACMA against two telcos after TIO referrals. Planet ISP was directed to comply with a TIO direction to refund more than $5,000 to a consumer whose phone was stolen overseas. Sure Telecom was directed to comply with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code after a TIO systemic investigation pointed to breaches of the Code. 
TIO Talks is available at www.tio.com.au
Media queries: Mirjana Jovetic, TIO Communications Manager 
(03) 8600 8378

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