Mobile industry welcomes fall in complaints and renews commitment to work to overcome bill shock issues

A big fall in the number of complaints about mobile premium services to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman showed how the mobile telecommunications industry could work with key stakeholders in overcoming consumer complaints about new services, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) said today.


The TIO Annual Report showed an almost 5 per cent decrease in new overall complaints during 2009-10, with 167,955 complaints received.


Ombudsman Simon Cohen said there had been an improvement this year following a period of sustained and substantial complaint growth. “While positive, there is clear room for improvement,” he said.


AMTA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Althaus, said the number of cases handled by the TIO had declined by 6.5 per cent, mainly due to decreased landline and Mobile Premium Services cases, which fell by 17.1 per cent and 70 per cent respectively. Mobile cases increased by 9.7%, but the growth was much less than the 78.7 per cent increase in 2008-09.


“This is a step in the right direction, however, our industry acknowledges we have to do better and we are committed to the task. We are at a particular moment in time, where complexity and diversity and the convergent environment bring a whole range of challenges to both the regulator and consumers,” he said.



“In response the industry is working with governments, regulators and the community to achieve regulatory settings, policy outcomes and programs that promote an industry that is socially responsible and in step with community needs and expectations.




“There is widespread recognition across industry that it must improve its customer service. This recognition is being backed by significant investment to upgrade customer service technology and systems.




“Rapid technological advances, convergence, increasingly complex supply chains and significantly increased customer numbers have presented the telecommunications industry with both technical and consumer management challenges.”



Mr Althaus pointed to the 70 per cent fall in Mobile Premium Service complaints as an example of what could be achieved in tackling issues revolving around the introduction of new services through the introduction of a new code.


He said the industry took on board Mr Cohen’s comments about “bill shock” and customers receiving unexpected high bills associated with downloading data and the use of new services offered by smartphones.


Mr Althaus said the mobile telecommunications industry remained committed to educating consumers about web browsing, email, video, chat, social networking and the rapid adoption of data services.


Consumer awareness of mobile service usage is also very important given the rapidly growing demand for mobile data services, such as mobile broadband, he said.


“It is in no one’s interest to have customers in debt as a result of unexpectedly high bills – so industry is actively promoting consumer awareness in this regard,” Althaus said.


“Mobile operators offer a number of self-help tools to assist consumers keep track of their usage and spending on a range of services. These are free online accounts allowing them to monitor their usage on a daily basis,” he said.


“Consumers should check with their service provider to see if they offer a service to contact them if their expenditure is particularly high compared to previous bills. They can also request the barring of some services at the network level.


“Consumers can also ask if they offer an SMS notification service that lets them know when they have reached 80% or 100% of their cap. Some providers offer free text services that consumers can use to monitor their usage.”


AMTA’s consumer tips on these issues can be found here

For more information contact Randal Markey, AMTA, (02) 6239 6555 or 0421 240 550