Victorians least happy with phone service

Victorians are more dissatisfied with their telecommunications services than users in any other part of the country.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman's annual report, released today, shows the Ombudsman received 56,785 new complaints from Victoria in the last financial year, or 10.6 complaints per 1,000 people — more than any other state. This was followed by South Australia (9.9 complaints per 1000) and the ACT (8.9).

Residents in Melbourne's CBD and Docklands made more complaints than those of any other postcode in the country. Users in St Kilda, Campbellfield and Doreen were also among the top 10 complaint postcodes in Australia.

Across Australia, the TIO received 193,702 new complaints in 2011-12, a decrease of 2 per cent on the previous year.

However, complaints about mobile phones increased nationally by 9.3 per cent to 122,834 new complaints.

Ombudsman Simon Cohen said two out of three complaints made to the TIO were about mobile phones, reflecting the rising use of smartphones.

Poor coverage, billing disputes and the quality of information given to consumers at the point of sale were among the most common issues reported.

The biggest increases in mobile issues across Australia were:

  • Financial overcommitment due to inadequate spend management tools (15,752 issues – double the number of the previous year)
  • Disputes over the total amount of a bill (13,943 issues – a 33 per cent increase)
  • Disputed internet usage charges (10,556 issues – a 150 per cent increase)
  • Disputed roaming charges (4186 issues – a 69 per cent increase).

"Complaints about mobile phone services continue to rise and it's very concerning that so many consumers who contact the TIO face unexpectedly high bills," Mr Cohen said.

"Complaints about unexpectedly high bills and unnecessary financial overcommitment point to the urgent need for strong spend-management rules, including those that are included in the new Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code."

However, he said the overall drop in in complaints was encouraging.

"There has been a clear trend, since April 2012, of reduced complaints, with the last quarter of 2011-12 being our quietest for almost two years," Mr Cohen said.

"This is a positive sign that reflects the focus by a number of telcos on improving their customer service."

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