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Advocacy group ACCAN has launched a free smartphone app that will allow mobile phone customers to test their reception.

It will enable them to log where and when they are experiencing call dropouts, delayed text messages or slow Internet so they can make a complaint to their provider.

ACCAN (the Australian Communications Consumers Action Group) is Australia’s peak telecommunications consumer advocacy group. Its “Phone Rights” app also offers consumers and small businesses advice on how to resolve common phone and Internet issues through tip sheets and video guides.

Issues include contracts, bill shock, global roaming and data charges. There is also a function that allows you to contact your provider or make a complaint to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) directly through the app and set reminders in your calendar about when to follow up.

The information in the app is based on the new Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code, which outlines the rules and obligations of telecommunications providers in dealing with customers.

“This app is the ultimate guide for customers about their rights as a phone or internet customer,” said ACCAN spokeswoman Elise Davidson. “The rules around telecommunications can be really confusing for customers and this app makes it simple for consumers to figure out how to get a problem fixed.”

Complaints about mobile coverage are one of the biggest bugbears of mobile phone customers in Australia. In 2011-12, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman received 29,783 complaints about mobile coverage. This was a 4% increase from 2010-11.

“One of the most frequent complaints we hear from customers is about call dropouts and slow internet. Mobile black spots are common – not only in regional areas, but in cities too,” said Davidson.

“If you’ve signed up to a contract and you’re not getting the service you’re paying for, it’s worth making a complaint to your provider about it. This app makes it easy by providing you with a record of where and when problems are occurring.”

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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