TIO reveals jump in complaints about mobile data charges

Complaints overall drop to record six-year low

Charges levied on users for exceeding their mobile data quotas have become the number one source of complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, new figures released today by the telco watchdog reveal.

Complaints about data charges shot up 27.2 per cent in 2013-14, the TIO revealed today. There were 14,534 issues related to excess data charges in 2013-14 compared to 11,429 a year earlier.

However, the general trend in the TIO's statistics was a decrease in new complaints: In 2013-14 the body received fewer complaints than at any time over the last six years, according to ombudsman Simon Cohen.

"The results indicate that a number of the recent co-regulatory initiatives to protect consumers are working. They also demonstrate that a sustained focus on the experience of telecommunications consumers will reduce the need for the TIO’s involvement," Cohen wrote in his introduction to the TIO's year in review report.

"It’s worth remembering that there is something like 32 million mobile subscriptions in Australia and despite this dwarfing the level of complaints, the industry will stay focused on further reducing TIO complaint levels in 2014-15," the CEO of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, Chris Althaus, said in response.

New complaints to the ombudsman dropped 12 per cent overall and new mobile complaints dropped 21.2 per cent.

Previously the biggest category of complaints to the TIO, outside of customer services and complaint handling by telcos, was mobile coverage. Complaints relating to coverage dropped 54.6 per cent, the TIO revealed.

Telcos' investment in infrastructure, the 2012 introduction of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code and a commitment to customer service all had an impact on the drop in complaints over the last three years according to industry body Communications Alliance.

"The results are consistent with the Comms Alliance quarterly national polling which shows steady improvements in telco customer satisfaction during the past 18 months," the organisation's CEO, John Stanton, said.

Follow Rohan on Twitter: @rohan_p

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Tags TelecommunicationsTelecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)

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