Telco bills worry consumers more than network issues: TIO

Complaints about bills have overtaken complaints about network coverage, according to the latest statistics from the Australian Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has said that the long term trend for complaints about telco services in Australia is down, but consumers are now complaining more about bills and excess data charges.

The latest statistics from the TIO released in the TIO Talks industry newsletter reveal that new complaints to the TIO for the first three months of 2014 were 36,256, up 8.7 percent more than the previous quarter , but down 19.4 percent for the same quarter in 2013 (40,021 complaints).

The biggest decline year-on-year came from mobile service issues, which went down 49.5 percent. The biggest drop quarter-to-quarter came from mobile data speed issues, which wen down 32.7 percent.

The TIO Simon Cohen said that for the first time in three years, billing issues were the most common complaint to the TIO across mobile, fixed, and internet services, with customers complaining about excess data charges on mobile and internet services 20 percent of the time.

Internet faults and connection issues also saw an increase in complaints, up 26.4 percent, and 26.9 percent quarter-on-quarter, respectively.

Cohen said some customers were being charged for services that weren't connected.

"Where services are not connected or not operating, it is not fair for consumers to be charged for the service. This has been an emerging issue in the last year," Cohen said.

Mobile made up 51 percent of all complaints, with 24.6 percent for fixed, and 23.2 percent for internet.

Victorians topped the list of complainers by state, proportional to its population size, with 1.8 complaints per 1,000 people in the quarter, followed by South Australia with 1.7 percent, and New South Wales and the ACT with 1.6 complaints per 1,000.

Brunswick, a National Broadband Network launch site, was one of the top ten postcodes for complaints, with the top issue relating to delays in connecting a service.