Dealing with phone problems

Whether it's your fault or not, you have legal rights that can help you to sort out problems or make complaints about your phone or mobile service provider. There are just a couple of steps for you to take.

Types of mobile phone problems

Whatever your problem, there's a system for helping you to deal with it. Here are some common problems that could be resolved by talking to your provider.

Case study: Hien's bill shock

Hien was on a $39 a month plan with a monthly allowance of $350 for calls and text. But the allowance was not a cap and his mobile service provider did not send 'alerts' to its customers to tell them when they were near their maximum allowance.

He reached $350 half way through his first month and for the rest of that month extra charges were added each time he used his mobile. At the end of the month he got a bill for an extra $220! He couldn't pay it and then he got an overdue notice but he still couldn't pay.

He contacted his provider and explained that he had not really understood his plan. The provider agreed to allow him to pay the $350 debt off at $70 a month for 5 months. This was on top of his existing contract of $39 each month.

Faulty phone

If your new phone is faulty or doesn't work, you may have the right to get it repaired or replaced, or get a refund. Contact your service provider to find out. See your consumer rights at ACCC: Telephone and mobile services.

If you bought your phone from a business outside Australia, you may find it a lot more difficult to insist on your rights. In any case, keep your receipts, warranty document and contract with the service provider as proof of purchase.

Bill shock

If your bill is heaps more than you expected don't panic, just follow the steps below.

Network coverage or internet connection

Poor quality mobile network coverage can be a real problem but you can make a complaint.

How to resolve mobile phone problems

Step 1 - Contact your mobile service provider

Contact your service provider about your complaint. The rules say that the provider must be fair with you in trying to solve the problem. When you contact your provider, they should deal with your problem quickly in a helpful and positive way.

If you feel they're not being fair or you are unhappy with the outcome, there's a special organisation you can go to for help called the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). The TIO will help find a solution that is fair to you and the provider.

Are you happy with the solution?

Happy Unhappy Still Unhappy
If you're happy with the solution suggested, the service provider must do what it promised within 10 days. If it's taking too long or you don't agree with the solution suggested, ask the provider to refer your complaint to a supervisor or manager - they have more authority to make decisions. If you're still not satisfied after speaking to a manager who works for your provider, contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).

Step 2 - Contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) is a free, independent service that helps people who are not satisfied with a mobile service provider's handling of your problem, whether it has to do with bills, payments, faults, poor network connection or poor handling of your complaint by a provider.

The TIO can help you and your provider to sort out the problem, and can then investigate and decide on a fair solution for your problem.

Case study: David gets help from the Industry Ombudsman

When David wanted a new mobile phone, he decided to go on a plan with a service provider that bundled his mobile with his home internet service. However, the provider's internet connection was not good in the area where David lived.

David complained to his provider and they agreed to drop his internet service and refund the money he'd been paying for the service.

David decided to change to a different mobile phone service because he knew he could get a better deal. However, the original provider would not cancel the mobile phone part of the contract.

David contacted the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). The TIO discussed the problem with David's provider and found that it was unfair to make him stick to his mobile phone contract because the contract was for a bundle, and the provider could not provide all the bundled services. The provider agreed to cancel David's contract.

Related links

Last updated: 22 Feb 2017