Thursday, 21 July 2022 11:32

TIO report reveals the key drivers behind mobile services complaints

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The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman yesterday released a report highlighting the key drivers behind complaints about mobile services.

Mobile services have become the dominant complaint type, according to the report.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) received over 63,000 complaints about mobile services between July 2020 and March 2022.

While overall complaint numbers declined in that period, the proportion of mobile complaints increased.

Complaint numbers about misleading conduct by a telco and unsuitable payment options were higher for mobile services than internet, landline and multiple services combined.

Investigating complaints about essential mobile services report identifies four problems that drive mobile services complaints. These are:
• Misleading mobile services leads to poor outcomes for consumers
• Information about mobile service reliability is not always provided
• Customer self-service is not accessible to all consumers
• Automatic payment methods can result in loss of service or disadvantage

“We aren't seeing the same improvements in complaints about mobile services as we are in other service types. This is concerning because when something goes wrong with a mobile service, the impacts can be really disruptive to people’s lives,” commented TIO ombudsman Cynthia Gebert.

“In today’s world, mobile phone services are essential not only for daily life – such as banking, shopping, accessing health and government services, and connecting socially – but also for safety during an emergency like a bushfire or flood.”

Gebert says her office will work on the following to soften the number of complaints: responsible selling of mobile services, communicating effectively about service reliability, removing barriers to accessing support from a human being when trying to contact a telco, and ensuring that automatic payment methods are not negatively impacting consumers.

Commenting on the report, Commpete chair Michelle Lim said the approaches will help both telcos and the TIO target specific areas to address the root causes of known issues.

“The work done on systemic issues is very valuable, in addition to the routine handling of individual complaints. This report is a helpful tool for the whole of industry to use as a common reference point as we seek to serve our customers through both traditional and new service models,” Lim said.

“The TIO report shows complaints about mobile services are also increasing as a proportion of overall complaints since July 2020. There is no doubt that mobile products and services are a growth area. They are increasingly an essential utility and provide many ways to embed innovation into our daily lives.

The report featured the stories of consumers who attended community outreach events—a first for the report, the TIO claims.

These stories demonstrate the challenges faced by consumers to stay connected during devastating disasters, or in rural or remote areas.

The report also features tips for telcos and consumers to help reduce problems with a mobile service.

Tips for telcos include:
• At sign-up, help consumers decide if the product is right for them
• Be clear with consumers about the quality of service they can expect
• Ensure self-service options have a clear pathway to a person
• Let consumers know about upcoming direct debits, and contact consumers who miss a payment

Tips for consumers include:
• Research your new mobile service before buying, such as checking coverage maps and available payment methods
• If something about your new mobile service is not what you expected, tell your telco
• If you need flexibility for your next payment, contact your telco to talk about it before the payment is due
• If you can’t get in touch with your telco, contact the TIO

This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 20 July 2022.

 

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Kenn Anthony Mendoza

Kenn Anthony Mendoza is the newest member of the iTWire team. Kenn is also a contributing writer for South China Morning Post Style, and has written stories on Korean entertainment, Asian and European royalty, Millionaires and Billionaires, and LGBTQIA+ issues. He has been published in Philippine newspapers, magazines, and online sites: Tatler PhilippinesManila BulletinCNN Philippines LifePhilippine StarManila Times, and The Daily Tribune. Kenn now covers all aspects of technology news for iTWire.com.

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