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Complaints from small businesses about their telcos jumped by more than 50% last year.

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Image: Choice

That’s according to the Telecommunications Ombudsman (TIO), who says the number of complaints from SMB (less than 20 staff), hit a record high of 22,836 in 2010-11 – a massive 52% jump.

Just under 15,000 complaints were recorded in 2009-10 period.

The reason? The telco ombudsman’s power was given a lift in May, when its scope to make binding decisions [on disputes] were increased to $30,000 and recommendations increased to $85,000.

So, how did Telstra, Optus & Co arouse the ire of SMBs?

The majority of  complaints were about mobile phone services (57%), followed by “inadequate or incorrect advice” from customer service representatives, poor network coverage and drop-outs on mobile calls.

“Service providers not acting on promises” to resolve complaints and disputes about bills were also high on SMBs complaint list to the ombudsman.

One pharmacy owner was billed a whopping $8,000 for going over her data allowance, the ombudsman said.

Another disgruntled owner of a small IT company, contacted the ombudsman after being charged over $8,000 in international data roaming services, without receiving any notifications of the charges while overseas.

The ever increasing reliance on SMB on online and network services is also a factor in the rise, the TIO said today. 

However the telco ombudsman noted overall complaints (from consumers and SMB) fell 6% in the final three months of 2011 compared to the previous quarter although there were still 48,100 new complaints – higher than the same period in 2010.

2011 saw complaints to TIO at record highs.

 

Read: Bloody Hell Vodafone: 180% Rise Telco Complaints

Ombudsman investigations fell by 73% as service providers and consumers responded positively to the TIO’s new conciliation process, it also said.

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