The number of complaints filed with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) decreased by 5 per cent during 2009/2010.
Over the course of the year, 167,955 complaints were received, down from 175,963 in 2008/9. Ombudsman Simon Cohen said that despite the decrease, the number was still too high.
The top seven issues were:
- Billing and payments: 26 per cent
- Customer service: 20 per cent
- Complaint handling: 16 per cent
- Contracts: 13 per cent
- Faults: 12 per cent
- Credit management: 10 per cent
- Provisioning: 3 per cent
Issues with mobile premium services or customers not being able to contact their telcos had fallen, according to the ombudsman. However, financial issues were on the rise.
"Across every service type — landline, mobile and internet — we are seeing issues about financial over commitment increase," Cohen said. "Part of the reason for this is so-called 'bill shock', where consumers receiving unexpectedly high bills, often after large downloads to mobile devices such as smartphones or incurring unexpected global roaming charges."
There was an 86 per cent increase in problems relating to financial over-commitment regarding mobile services, 47 per cent for landline services and 36 per cent for internet. There were 81 per cent more complaints about mobile roaming charges and 71 per cent more complaints about mobile internet usage.
The Australian Communications Consumer Acton Network (ACCAN) said that the complaints represented the tip of the iceberg, pointing to research that said only 7 per cent of dissatisfied customers would go to the ombudsman for help. A third of customers weren't aware that the TIO exists, the network said.
ACCAN is calling for information about the TIO to be made mandatory on all telecommunications bills and for a complaint-handling standard to be introduced.