Telco providers endure the wrath of small businesses: TIO

Poor mobile coverage and inadequate customer service top complaints list

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, Simon Cohen.

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, Simon Cohen.

Telecommunication services still have a long way to go judging by a new report from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) which received more than 22,000 new complaints from small businesses in the financial year 2010-11.

Inadequate customer service advice, poor mobile phone coverage, broken promises and bill disputes were the most common complaints.

Ombudsman, Simon Cohen, said that small businesses rely on effective telecommunications — in particular, functioning internet and mobile telephone services — to stay competitive.

“Problems with telecommunications can severely impact on their viability and profits,” Cohen said in a statement.

While the total number of complaints reduced by 6 per cent in the final quarter of 2011, the TIO dealt with 48,100 new complaints between 1 October and 31 December 2011. However, investigations reduced by 73 per cent, as service providers and consumers responded positively to the TIO’s new conciliation process.

In November 2011, the TIO reported it had received almost 200,000 new consumer complaints over the last 12 months.

“I am encouraged that complaints have reduced from record levels in early 2011,” Cohen said. “However, new complaint levels are higher than the same period last year. The increase in credit management issues for mobile services during this period, and the financial over-commitment that is a substantial cause of these complaints, is of particular concern.”

Telstra chief executive, David Thodey, recently conceded that internal surveys conducted by the company indicated a 7 per cent increase in customer satisfaction over the last 18 months, falling well short of the 30 per cent year-on-year goal set by Thodey.

Complaints about Telstra registered with the TIO declined by 24 per cent during the half year ended 31 December 2011.

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