Vulnerable Queenslanders struggle with phone and internet issues
New research undertaken by my office and Community Legal Centres Queensland shows that almost half of community legal workers in that state are seeing clients burdened by phone and internet issues every week. And a further 20 per cent hear about phone and internet issues every two to four weeks.
We surveyed community legal workers including lawyers, social workers and financial counsellors, about the frequency of phone and internet problems, the barriers for consumers in complaining, the most common phone and internet issues and possible solutions.
We found community legal workers’ clients have a wide range of issues from not being able to pay for their phone or internet service and escalating debt issues.
Increasingly, problems have a domino effect, with one problem leading to another, to another.
Professionals reported their clients facing subsequent issues from phone and internet problems including an impact on mental health and the suspension of services.
Improving availability of payment plans, providing clearer information, and introducing restrictions on overselling, were identified as the top changes that would assist consumers avoiding phone or internet issues.
55 per cent of community legal workers said their clients do not know how to complain about their problem with a phone or internet service. The main barriers to complaining were not knowing who to contact to complain and a lack of confidence.
Residential consumers and small businesses should chat through their issue first with their phone and internet provider but if they feel their problem can’t be resolved that they can contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman on 1800 062 058 or www.tio.com.au
Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman