The volume was 8.7 % more than in October-December 2013, but 9.4% less than at the same time in 2013.
The data is contained in the TIO’s quarterly TIO Talks report, released today. For the third quarter in a row, the TIO received less than 20,000 complaints about mobile services, which make up about half of all complaints. Complaints about mobile phones themselves have dropped 19.4% when compared to the same quarter last year.
"The reduction in mobile phone complaints is mainly due to fewer complaints about faults, which have almost halved compared to the same time last year," Ombudsman Simon Cohen said. But an emerging issue in mobile complaints is excess data usage charges. The TIO data shows that while complaints about problems like slow data speeds have decreased 67% compared to last year, disputes over excess data charges have increased 30%.
"As the speed of phones and networks has increased, so has the data used by consumers,” said Cohen. “But the plans they sign up for may not be matching their needs.”
New complaints about Internet and landline services increased 20.6% and 15.9% respectively, caused by a higher number of fault and connection related complaints. Year on year, the increases were modest – 4.8% for Internet and 2.9% for landline complaints.
One in three Internet billing disputes also included issues with faults or connections. A common theme in these complaints was dissatisfaction with having to pay for a service that was faulty or had not been connected by the agreed date.
"Where services are not connected or operating, it is not fair for consumers to be charged for the service. This has been an emerging issue in the last year," Cohen said.
TIO Talks also says mobile apps and in-app purchases charged through consumers’ mobile bills should be covered by Mobile Premium Services (MPS) Code, following complaints about apps that are hard to distinguish from MPS, but are not covered by the code.
Victoria, South Australia, and NSW and ACT were the states with the most complaints in proportion to their population. Victorians made 1.8 complaints per 1,000 people; South Australians, 1.7 per 1000; and NSW and ACT residents, 1.6 per 1000.
TIO Talks is available as a PDF online on the TIO’s website at www.tio.com.au