New app lets consumers chart telcos' failures

ACCAN launches 'Phone Rights' app

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network today launched an app designed to make it easier for consumers to lodge complaints about poor mobile coverage.

The Phone Rights app, available for both iOS and Google's Android platform, uses a mobile device's GPS chip to pinpoint where a consumer experienced call dropouts or sub-par data speeds.

“One of the most frequent complaints we hear from customer is about call dropouts and slow Internet," ACCAN spokesperson Elise Davidson said in a statement.

“Mobile blackspots are common – not only in regional areas, but in cities too.”

The app can be employed to lodge a complaint, either with a service provider or the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).

Phone Rights also incorporates information on consumers' rights, and guides about mobile related issues such as 'bill shock'.

The information is drawn from the new Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) industry code that came into effect on 1 March. The new code includes stipulations intended to make telcos' products less confusing for consumers, including the provision of summaries to new customers that clearly set out charges and warn of roaming costs.

The code is enforced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the new Communications Compliance (CommCom) body.

In excess of 29,000 issues relating to telcos' mobile coverage were lodged with the TIO in 2011-2012. The organisation's 2012 annual report recorded decreased complaints about Telstra, but increased complaints relating to Optus and Vodafone.

Australia's number three telco Vodafone currently faces the prospect of a class action related to its network's performance. Legal firm Piper Alderman is currently seeking current and former Vodafone customers to take part in the action.

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