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More people are complaining of faulty mobile handsets than ever before according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

Faulty mobile phone handsets and the apparent failure of telecommunications companies to resolve customer complaints quickly have driven an 87 percent rise in the overall number of complaints about mobile services over the last year, as more than 40,000 consumers and small businesses turned to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman to resolve their disputes.

And complaints about Internet services have soared – as much as

693 percent in the case of complaints about customer transfers.

Problems with contracts, customer service and service provision also ranked highly.

According to John Pinnock, Australia’s Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, 10,095 complaints were received from mobile services customers in 2004-05 compared to 4756 in 2003/04. In addition, the Ombudsman reported fielding more than 44,000 complaints about fixed- line services, and 16,000 about Internet services.

The mobile phone sector, despite its relative maturity, still appears to be suffering from billing problems. According to the TIO, there were 10,095 complaints about billing last year, a

112.3 percent increase over the previous year.

The complaints scenario in fixed-line services seems to have settled, despite continuing problems with contracts and privacy issues. Contracts problems attracted 1,381 complaints last year,

145.3 percent up on the previous year, and privacy complaints spiked 135.1 percent to 2135 complaints. Overall, landline complaints rose 23.2 percent between 2003-04 and 2004-05, the TIO reported.

“The TIO’s complaint statistics for the 2005 financial year generally reflect the increase in the number of mobile phones,”

Pinnock said, “However, some of the increase in mobile complaints has been because of higher than expected complaints about mobile handset faults.”

Overall the TIO investigated a total of 78,915 complaints last year, including Internet, mobile and landline services. In the previous year, the body investigated 59,850 complaints.

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