Mobile contracts still catch unwary

Australian consumers are still struggling with the fine print in mobile phone contracts. The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman John Pinnock says there have been a number of complaints about misleading conduct on the part of dealers and agents, particularly at the point of sale.

Of the 2,445 complaints received by the TIO between July 1 and December 24 last year, 1108 were claims about being given incorrect or misleading information at the POS. Such complaints included advice about plans, what discounts were available, what was free.

Another 106 complaints related to telemarketing, where consumers were told they'd won a free phone, only to find out later they had to enter a contract. 91 complaints were made about consumers not receiving contract terms and conditions, and 94 complaints related to coverage.

Mr Pinnock said that mobile phone contracts have been the preferred option for years, to encourage widespread take-up. While this has produced a number of benefits there are some problems, he says. In some instances customers may not be aware that they're dealing with an agent or a dealer, not a telco employee.

Mobile phone customers are still not treated in the same way as fixed-line customers – and Mr Pinnock says he's not convinced that this is going to happen quickly.