Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Phone and internet users lodged millions of complaints in 2010
As the big gorilla of the industry, Telstra would be responsible for most of these
MILLIONS of angry phone and internet users with hang ups about their providers are struggling to get problems fixed, new research claims.
A staggering one in two customers have had a telco gripe in the past year, a survey has found. And one in three who experienced a problem - equivalent to 2.3 million Australians - were unhappy with how their complaint was handled, according to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.
Technical glitches, sloppy customer service, billing and complaint resolution topped nominated telco problems. A huge spike in complaints to the industry ombudsman has triggered a major federal inquiry that is due to report in early 2011.
But ACCAN policy director Elissa Freeman said the record 230,000 annual complaints that sparked the probe were just the tip of the iceberg. Ms Freeman said most frustrated consumers gave up on taking unresolved woes further.
Communications Alliance chief John Stanton said the industry was working hard to improve customer service, and was revising consumer protections. Mr Stanton said complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman fell 23 per cent last financial year after a peak a year earlier.
The New Galaxy research commissioned by ACCAN polled 1100 people early this month.
ACCAN is pushing for new mandatory standards to force telcos to respond to customer complaints sooner, reduce call waiting times, and help customers in financial hardship.
Upset customers who have made submissions to the Australian Communications and Media Authority inquiry include a businesswoman who said her Telstra number was shut down and given away because of an ``inexplicable error".
She then reportedly spent one to two hours on the line and was repeatedly transferred to different operators in a vain attempt for assistance.