Calls for Action as Telco Complaints Hit All-Time High
9 November 2011 at 9:58 am
The phones have hardly stopped ringing over the past year at the office of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, with a record-breaking number of new complaints lodged against Australia telecommunications providers in the last year, according to telecommunications industry watchdog, the Australian Communication Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).
More than 197,000 new complaints from telco customers were lodged with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) in the last financial year, – a 17.8% increase on the previous year and the highest number of complaints on record.
ACCAN said the top three issues for consumers were again customer service, complaint handling, and billing and payments.
Teresa Corbin, ACCAN CEO said, “The telco industry has scored another ‘F’ this year for customer service and complaint handling for failing to address its customers’ problems in a timely manner.”
Corbin says the complaints are only the tip of the iceberg – there are many customers “who are unaware of the TIO’s existence or simply worn down by the many hours spent trying to resolve complaints over the phone with their telcos.”
Corbin says, “Consumer detriment has been so significant over such an extended period in this area that we believe the introduction of regulation in the form of a complaints-handling service provider determination or a standard is the only way the industry is going to change.”
While Vodafone’s well-publicised network issues contributed to the 51.4% rise in the number of complaints about mobiles, ACCAN says complaints are up across the board for all of the top ten telecommunications providers, with the exception of Telstra which had a 3% decrease in complaints.
The nation’s telecommunications regulator – the Australian Communications & Media Authority – has given the telco’s a February deadline to ensure adequate consumer protections are put in place, or face regulatory intervention.
Research released by the TIO found more than 60% of customers that had filed a complaint with the Ombudsman spent three or more hours trying to resolve their complaint before approaching the TIO – with one in five having spent more than nine hours trying to resolve their complaint.
More than half of the consumer surveyed said they reaised the matter with the service provider at least a month before contacting the TIO – with 31% stating they had made a complaint more than three months beforehand.
“This dire situation cannot be allowed to continue where you have hundreds of thousands of Australian customers receiving the short shrift from companies providing essential communication services” says Corbin.
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