Record complaints for telecommunications industry, again

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman says industry must pick up its game

The highest increase in complaints were from mobile phone customers.

The highest increase in complaints were from mobile phone customers.

Complaints from consumers and small businesses about phone and Internet providers rose 54 per cent in 2008-2009 over the previous 12 months, according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).

In the TIO’s annual report, the Ombudsman, Deirdre O’Donnell, called for the industry to pick up its game as the level of complaints around customer service were still "unacceptably high".

In the 2008-09 period the TIO responded to 230,065 complaints, but 90 per cent were referred back to the service providers. The highest increase was in mobile phone customers with a 79 per cent rise, the TIO said in a statement. This was followed by Internet (57 per cent) and landline (40 per cent) users. Billing and payments, however, remained the biggest concern.

"The increases reflect the greater take-up of broadband internet services and a greater variety of services offered through mobile phones used by Australian consumers," O’Donnell said.

In August last year, the TIO said it had received 102,463 complaints in the 2007-2008 period, up from 55,515 in 2003.

The TIO is not the only organisation to criticise the telecommunications industry. In March, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) warned the Australian telecommunications industry to better deal with consumers and eradicate misleading advertising, unfair contracts and deceptive mobile phone competitions, or face the wrath of the Trade Practices Act.

The TIO's annual report can be found on its website.

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