performance of telcos slammed

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    ABC Online;
    Telecommunications providers have been condemned over their service provision, credit and bill management and handling of complaints.

    The telecommunication ombudsman's annual report for 2004 has indicated an 8 per cent increase in complaints against service providers, with surges in complaints over mobile phone contracts and Internet provisioning.

    Telecommunications ombudsman John Pinnock says the bundling of communication services with pay television contracts is another area of emerging concern.

    He says service providers have delivered an average service in the past year and he has been particularly critical of their inability to recognise consumer hardship when enforcing contracts.

    "The industry is pretty inflexible there, it's very hard to get the industry and all the major providers to come up with what we regard as a flexible payment arrangement," he said.

    "[It is] exacerbated also by an increasing tendency of the providers, and this is across the industry, to hit customers with late payment fees.

    He says all providers need to lift their game.

    "With the range of services, the number of services and their complexity, come the usual issues for consumers, and I think it can all be summed up in one word - confusion," he said.

    "Consumers are still confused about the range of services that are available and how they should access and use those services in a way that not only delivers them benefits but which they can afford."

    Dave R.
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