TIO: Overall telco complaints down but small businesses still suffering

TIO: Overall telco complaints down but small businesses still suffering

Complaints from small businesses have jumped by 52 per cent between 2010 and 2011

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has seen an overall reduction of complaints against telcos in the final quarter of 2011 but small businesses are having more grievances with their service providers than ever before.

The TIO is the last resort for telco customers to resolve disputes or lodge complaints against their service providers for home phones, mobiles and Internet.

Between October and December 2011, new complaints to the TIO reduced by six per cent for the previous quarter, dropping from 51,196 to 48,100. Complaints pertaining to mobile phones accounted for 67 per cent of the total figure.

The severity of the complaints has also gone down with level three complaints, which involve cases that require further investigation by the TIO, dropping from 208 to 64, down 69.2 per cent.

Level four cases, ones that require in-depth investigation by the TIO, went from 33 to zero.

While this appears to be good news, the TIO pointed out these numbers were still much higher compared to 2010.

Another worrying fact is complaints to the TIO made by small businesses have seen a sharp increase.

Around 22,000 complaints were made by small businesses in 2010 to 2011 has seen a 52 per cent jump, most of it related to mobile-related disputes.

Common themes include poor customer service advice, bad mobile coverage, broken promises and bill disputes.

“More small businesses rely on modern, effective telecommunications – in particular, a functioning Internet and effective mobile telephone service – to stay competitive or trade at all,” Ombudsman, Simon Cohen, said in a statement.

“Problems with telecommunications can severely impact on their viability and profits.”

The TIO was also worried by the growing problems of aggressive telco debt collector practices and the rising number of customers with credit management issues.

“The increase in credit management issues for mobile services during this period, and the financial over-commitment that is a substantial cause of these complaints, is of particular concern,” Cohen said.

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