Mobiles are No 1 Communications Device
5 September 2012 at 11:45 am
Peak Not for Profit telecommunications consumer body ACCAN says its new research confirms the majority of Australians now see their mobile phone as their number one communications device but ‘bill shock’ continues to be an issue.
The research highlighted a generational gap, with younger people vastly preferring mobiles (77 per cent), while more than half of people aged 55 and over saying their fixed line is their main service. However fixed line phones have dwindled to 29 per cent.
The first annual ACCAN National Consumer Perceptions Survey, which is being presented at the ACCAN 2012 National Conference being held in Sydney, also reveales that many Australians are reluctant to switch providers, with almost a third of respondents saying they had never switched telecommunications providers. Almost half had been with their provider for five years or more.
“It’s surprising that so many people have been with the same telecommunications provider for five years or more, especially at a time when there have never been more providers offering competitively priced voice and internet services in Australia,” ACCAN Chief Executive Teresa Corbin said.
“We’re going to take a closer look at why people don’t actively participate in the market by shopping around. If you’ve been with the same provider for a long time, it’s worth checking to see what other deals are on offer.
“People are actively trying to save money on other utilities like energy, but for some reason when it comes to telecommunications services many people just stay with the same provider,” Corbin said.
Among smartphone users, just over half said they do not monitor their data usage (52 per cent) which ACCAN said can lead to customers receiving unexpectedly high bills, known as “bill shock”.
Bill Shock is a significant driver of telecommunications payment difficulties according to research released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) at the ACCAN Conference.
The research details were presented by ACMA chair Chris Chapman as part of the Conference Keynote Address.
The major findings from the research show that 14 per cent of Australian bill-payers experienced some difficulty paying one or more telecommunication bills in the past 12 months.
Nearly half (47 per cent) named bill shock as one of the main triggers for difficulty paying a bill.
Some 69 per cent of consumers who contacted their service provider about payment difficulty or bill shock were not offered advice about how to avoid such situations in the future.
ACMA says these findings have confirmed the need to make financial hardship and its causes a focus of the compliance activity for the new Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code.
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, announced a new five-year funding agreement to provide ACCAN with over $2 million a year up to 2017. The funding is delivered through a levy on telecommunications companies.
“This will provide the ACMA with the flexibility to introduce consumer protection measures if satisfactory consumer outcomes are not being delivered,” Conroy said.
“The Gillard Government’s reforms to better protect telecommunications consumers are in addition to recent steps taken to make international mobile roaming rates for Australian travellers more transparent.
“Within twelve months, Australian telecommunications companies will have to alert their customers about exactly how much they will be charged when they make a phone call, send a text message, or surf the internet, wherever they may be overseas."