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Complaints about Internet services are on the increase in Australia, according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. Overall complaints to the ombudsman increased by 16.9 per cent in 2006-07 to 102,463 – but Internet complaints were up 109 per cent over the previous year and now make up almost a third of all complaints, ombudsman Deirdre O’ Donnell said in her annual report.

Telstra was the biggest recipient of complaints, with 24,553 recorded for the telco and 7263 for the BigPond Internet operation. Among smaller outfits, ISP and mobile operator Dodo Australia stood out with an eyebrow-raising total of 10,108 complaints.

Other high-scorers included Optus (7934, plus 2840 for Optus Broadband and 6882 for Optus Mobile); Hutchison 3G 7057; AAPT 3784; Vodafone 3649; GoTalk 1453; Primus 2256; and People Telecom 1312.

Dodo and Telstra were also criticised for poor service earlier this year in a survey of attitudes to broadband operators conducted by Web site Whirlpool (CDN, March 9).

The TIO report comes one day after an OECD report found Australia is one of the few countries in the world imposing across-the-board data caps on broadband services – and the most expensive.

 

“Complaints about billing and payments, including direct debits and capped and bundled phone plans, were a source of concern for all consumers,” O’Donnell said.

“Customer service was a particular issue for Internet service consumers.”

The TIO logged 54,285 mobile service complaints, 54,336 landline service issues, 48,181 Internet service issues and 10,083 mobile premium service issues, she said.

Only a small proportion of these complaints was required to be formally investigated by the TIO, with most said to have been resolved by the service provider.

Customer service accounted for about 17 per cent of complaint issues. Most persistent problems included service providers failing to act on a customer’s request; giving incorrect or inadequate advice; or not being able to be contacted.

The report is available at www.tio.com.au.

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