Bills continue to chalk up most telco complaints

Internet and telephone bills continue to generate the highest complaint levels from customers, according to the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsmen's (TIO) Annual Report for 2001/2002.

Released on Wednesday, the report found a third of the total 62,275 complaints made by consumers and businesses to the TIO were based on billing issues such as disputed call or service charges.

Internet service complaint figures reflected this, with just over 37 per cent of complaints concerning billing disputes. Seventeen per cent of these involved download fees and charges.

In total, Internet-related complaints rose by 13.5 per cent over the 12 month period. Besides billing, faults and customer service issues chalked up substantial numbers, accounting for 25.1 per cent and 20.4 per cent respectively.

The TIO also reported a dramatic rise in consumer criticism of broadband data technology. Most of these complaints related to reliability, speed or misleading advertising regarding download limits.

While total complaints were down 13 per cent from 2001/2000, Ombudsman John Pinnock said the decline did not necessarily reflect an improvement in the quality of telephony and Internet services. Customer grievances against telco giants Telstra and Optus for example, actually increased over the 12 month period, he said.

In addition, almost 20 per cent of complaints made to the TIO in last year's report related to now defunct telco and service provider One.Tel.

"The removal of these complaints may explain, at least in part, the decline in complaint numbers for 2001/2002," Pinnock said.

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Nadia Cameron

Nadia Cameron

PC World
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