Australian telecoms sector the “most hated industry” in the country

Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) accounted for the lion’s share of complaints to the country’s telecoms ombudsman in the last quarter. On the day the company was due to hold its annual general meeting, the ombudsman recorded 14,670 customer complaints about VHA between January and March this year – an increase of 96 per cent over the previous quarter.

While the ombudsman singled VHA out as worthy of naming and shaming, with the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) said that it wasn’t the only culprit, pointing to a record 31 per cent increase in complaints across the board this year; Telstra and Optus also attracted increased complaints.

In a statement issued by ACCAN, chief executive Teresa Corbin said “The industry will point the finger at Vodafone and say, yet again, that there is no problem. The truth of the matter is that complaints about customer service and complaint-handling issues continue to climb across the board.” The ACCAN describes the Australian telecoms sector as the country’s “most hated industry” and said it was “almost certain” that the 2010-2011 financial year “will be the worst year on record for Australian telecommunications customers.”

Figures released by the Australian Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) show 60,000 new complaints between January and March this year. Mobile communications complaints increased by 50 per cent and accounted for six out of every ten new complaints recorded. Complaints were largely focused around incorrect information and faults, but there were increases across the board relating to billing, contracts, credit management and complaint handling.

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