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Complaints from small businesses about their telecommunications services increased 52 per cent in the last financial year, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) reports in the latest issue of TIO Talks, published today.

More than 22,000 complaints were made in 2010-11 by small businesses unable to resolve issues with service providers. Complaints about inadequate or incorrect customer service advice, poor mobile phone coverage, broken promises and bill disputes were the most common issues.

“More small businesses rely on modern, effective telecommunications – in particular, a functioning internet and effective mobile telephone services – to stay competitive or trade at all. Problems with telecommunications can severely impact on their viability and profits. The TIO provides an important service where small businesses cannot solve complaints with their telcos,” said Ombudsman Simon Cohen.

 

The TIO has and is making changes so that its services remain relevant to small businesses. These include increases in the monetary limits for disputes the TIO can decide, and a change to the way the TIO classifies a small business.

In other news reported in TIO Talks, complaints reduced 6 per cent in the final quarter of 2011. The TIO dealt with 48,100 new complaints between 1 October and 31 December 2011. In addition, investigations reduced by 73 per cent, as service providers and consumers responded positively to the TIO’s new conciliation process.

“I am encouraged that complaints have reduced from record levels in early 2011,” said Mr Cohen. “However, new complaint levels are higher than the same period last year. 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.”

TIO Talks
also highlights:

• telecommunications issues in regional and remote Australia
• debt collection practices in the telecommunications industry
• what happens when the TIO cannot deal with a consumer’s complaint.

TIO Talks is available in HTML and PDF format at www.tio.com.au.