More ‘trouble with telcos’ as bad service, hidden costs, and shoddy sales practices revealed

report* published today by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) reveals that telco sales culture, practices, and cost structures before and during COVID are continuing to fail Australia’s consumers.

The report uses vivid cases studies to make four headline findings:

  • advertising and point-of-sale information does not always cover key terms;
  • online information about products and services can be difficult to find and understand;
  • telcos do not always promote or sell their products responsibly; and
  • people sometimes unknowingly sign up for products or services they do not need.

“It’s frankly gobsmacking that phone and internet providers have confused or mislead people during sales by suggesting accessories were ‘free’ or ‘included’, but then charging for them,” said Brigette Rose, Senior Policy Officer at Consumer Action Law Centre.

“Some of the TIO’s findings mirror what we’ve seen in our casework”.

The report also found instances of poor dispute resolution from telcos, where providers failed to resolve issues at the individual customer level until there was TIO involvement.

The TIO report follows last week’s Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s $50 million fine upheld by the Federal Court against Telstra for unconscionable conduct in its sales to Indigenous people in parts of Western Australia, South Australia, and Northern Territory.

“The TIO’s findings about continued systemic failures in the way telcos are engaging with the public are yet more damning evidence that industry needs to lift its game and stronger government regulation is needed to reign in this essential service,” said Ms Rose.

*Helping telco consumers sign up to the right phone and internet products 
The Trouble with Telcos: Stories from 2020



Media contact: Mark Pearce, Media and Communications Adviser, 0413 299 567,

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