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New complaints decrease, excess data charges drop

16 December 2014

Complaints to TIO drop by 9.1 per cent for a seven-year low.

We recorded 30,539 new complaints in July-September 2014. This result is 9.1 per cent lower than the previous quarter and 14.6 per cent lower than at the same time in 2013. July-September 2014 was also the lowest quarter for new complaints since 2007. 

“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.”

Excess data charge complaints for mobile services made to the TIO dropped by 13.1 per cent in July-September 2014 compared to April-June 2014 — from 2,886 to 2,508. This figure was also 10.8 per cent lower than at the same time in 2013.

While the overall decrease is a positive, complaints about excess data charges continue to be the main issue for mobile users who come to the TIO. On average, a consumer who made a complaint to the TIO about a bill disputed $373.40 of the charges. 

Our Year in Review report in September 2014 highlighted excess data charges as the top core issue raised by consumers in 2013-14. This type of complaint overtook mobile coverage as the main consumer concern.The increase in complaints last financial year 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.

Read more information about our quarterly statistics for July-September 2014.

Tips to avoid high data charges this summer

This holiday season the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is urging parents to watch their children’s mobile and internet use to avoid high excess data charges.

With teenagers and children having more time to relax, downloads of data-hungry games and videos can eat up the family’s monthly included data allowance on mobile and internet plans more quickly than usual.

The ACMA’s Consumer Consultative Forum, which the TIO is part of, recently published some tips for parents, including:

  • keep an eye on what your kids are downloading and the apps they are using
  • remember that using “catch-up” services on TVs and other devices will also eat into your home broadband data allowance
  • familiarise yourself with your service provider’s usage meters to know how you are tracking
  • check your provider’s policy on how excess data is charged
  • encourage your kids to use low-cost or free wi-fi hotspots to download large files, and
  • if you are close to hitting your data limit, talk to your provider about how to avoid or reduce excess data charges.

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