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Roaming complaints to TIO down; disputed charges increase

Roaming complaints to TIO down; disputed charges increase

Consumers disputed $8 million worth of global roaming charges, but new complaints decreased by almost 19 per cent

Fewer consumers are complaining to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) about global roaming charges but it also claimed a greater proportion are disputing bills of $5000 or more.

In its quarterly publication, TIO Talks, it showed consumers who came to the TIO disputed $8 million worth of global roaming charges between July 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012 – an average of $1.6 million per quarter.

Ombudsman, Simon Cohen, said most of the expensive bills are a result of consumers who travel overseas for business or leisure.

“Making sure that consumers are fully informed about roaming charges before and while they are overseas will go some way toward reducing the risk of returning home to a high bill,” Cohen said.

On the other hand, the study reported an overall decrease in new complaints to the TIO, pointing to early success for the telco industry’s new consumer protection code, Communications Alliance said.

Between April and June 2012, new complaints decreased by almost 19 per cent and by a further 11 per cent between July and September 2012.

For the period of July to September 2012, total complaints fell by 26 per cent compared to a year ago. TIO mentioned, in a statement, that 57 per cent of complaints made are about mobile services, and these complaints, in particular, fell even more sharply by 35.6 per cent.

Cohen said coverage issues continue to be the biggest concern of Australian mobile phone users – with a 4.2 per cent increase in complaints about this during the July to September 2012 time frame.

“Complaints about customer service, complaint handling and billing have reduced, which is good news for consumers and service providers alike. The challenge will be to keep up this positive trend over the summer months, when demand for new services and products is high,” Cohen said.

Other findings from the report include:

  • Victoria was the state with the most new complaints per capita between July and September 2012, with 1.83 complaints received per 1000 people. It was followed by South Australia (1.76), New South Wales (1.52), ACT (1.49), Queensland (1.39), Western Australia (1.2), Tasmania (1.05) and the Northern Territory (0.79).
  • The postcode with the most complaints per 1000 people in Australia was Docklands in Melbourne (4.9 complaints per 1000 people). Parramatta in New South Wales followed with 4.7 complaints per 1000 people.

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