No increase in rate of mobile premium service complaints, but industry committed to address issues

The rate of consumer complaints about mobile premium services has not increased this year, according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s (TIO) report released today.

The Chief Executive of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, Chris Althaus, said the TIO’s Report provided the mobile telecommunications industry with valuable feedback, which is used to improve customer services.

The TIO Report for 2007/08 found that there were 13,899 consumer complaints under the Mobile Premium Services Industry (MPSI) Scheme. This was almost double last year’s level of complaints, however, the TIO says this was “mainly due to the longer period that the TIO recorded complaints rather than an increase in the rate of complaints”. The MPSI Scheme was introduced in December 2006, “so MPSI complaints cannot be compared between the two years,” says the Report.

Mr Althaus said: “Although there has not been an increase in the rate of complaints over mobile premium services – against the backdrop of increasing usage by the public – the industry, nevertheless, accepts that no complaint is acceptable.

“The industry takes all complaints seriously and we welcome the Ombudsman’s Report because it allows the industry to measure its performance and work on ways to improve its performance.

“The industry accepts and takes on board the Ombudsman’s concern about the level and nature of mobile premium service complaints. We also note her comment that there is a low escalation rate of complaints under the MPSI with most resolved quickly by the provider.”

Mr Althaus said the mobile telecommunications industry is committed to addressing this issue. AMTA, on behalf of its Members, has released a new guide to assist consumers gain affordable and responsible access to premium SMS/MMS services.

“Our Members carry premium services on their networks for third parties and we acknowledge our responsibility to help minimise any problems associated with such services,” he said.

“We believe the positive aspects far outweigh the negative, however, we are committed to providing practical advice to help prevent misuse and promote the safe, responsible and affordable use of mobile telecommunications.

“Prevention is the key to protecting consumers and the tips stress not to use premium services unless they have found the full costs involved – the cost per message, the frequency of the messages and the total cost.”

TOP TIPS

  • Don’t use a premium service unless you know the full cost: cost per message, frequency of messages, total cost to you.

  • If you’re not sure about anything, ask before you subscribe!

  • Don’t let anyone borrow your phone unless you really trust them – if they use premium services on your phone, you’re the one that has to pay. This includes lending your phone to family!

  • Text “STOP” to cancel a premium SMS/MMS service.

  • Ask questions, read the terms & conditions.

  • If you’re asked for your mobile number, ask yourself “what will it be used for?” before providing it.

  • Keep a record of all premium services you subscribe to and total expected costs – so you don’t get any surprises when you get your bill.

  • Any problems, call the company providing the premium SMS/MMS service or your carrier.

  • If you’re not happy with the response, contact the TIO (for premium issues) or ACMA (for spam and scam).

AMTA’s tips on premium SMS/MMS can be viewed under Consumer Tips at www.amta.org.au

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