"If the telco industry is serious about fixing their customer service problems and serious about looking after their customers' interests, then they should put an end to 'soft caps' that mean nothing," Freeman said.
Freeman added that TIO complaint statistics did not reflect the true extent of problems. "We hear time and again from consumers who are frustrated, in debt and unable to resolve the issue because the telcos simply say 'it's all there in the contract. The problem is many people don't make it to the external complaints body (the TIO) because they simply give up and pay up."
AMTA CEO, Chris Althaus, said it was in no one's interest to have customers in debt as a result of unexpectedly high bills. "So industry is actively promoting consumer awareness in this regard."
According to Althaus, "Mobile operators offer a number of self-help tools to assist consumers keep track of their usage and spending on a range of services. These are free online accounts allowing them to monitor their usage on a daily basis'¦Consumers can also ask if [their service provider] offers an SMS notification service that lets them know when they have reached 80 percent or 100 percent of their cap."
ACMA has said that the report will form part of a wider evidence base it will use for its 'Reconnecting the Customer' inquiry. Freeman said: "While [the mobile cap report] is a good start more detailed research is required to get to the heart of the issue."