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Gripes … users were caught out.

MORE people than ever are dissatisfied with their mobile phone service, according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman's annual report.

The report, released yesterday, shows the Ombudsman received 122,834 complaints about mobile phones, an increase of 9.3 per cent.

The Ombudsman, Simon Cohen, said the rising use of smartphones had led to specific problems for customers, such as unexpectedly high bills, doubling to 15,752.

The most common criticism for mobile phones included poor coverage, 31,465, slightly up on last year; mobile billing disputes, up 33 per cent to 13,943; and complaints about the quality of information given to consumers at the point of sale, 20,213.

Telecommunications users in Parramatta, Sydney city, Alexandria and Haberfield reported the most dissatisfaction of all NSW customers - with all four areas in the top 10 complaint postcodes in Australia. Coverage was a major concern for customers in Parramatta, Alexandria and Haberfield, while Sydney city residents complained of unexpectedly high bills and poor point of sale advice.

Optus had the biggest jump in complaints - up 47 per cent, driven by mobile issues such as faults, inadequate spend controls and disputed internet charges. Complaints against Vodafone also rose - by 11 per cent. However, issues relating to its much publicised network problems reduced significantly. Telstra registered a 21 per cent decrease in complaints.

The chief executive of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, Teresa Corbin, said the steep jump in mobile phone complaints highlighted the importance of new spend-management rules, which will be introduced from next year.

Under the new Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code, all major providers will be required to send SMS alerts to customers when they have used 50 per cent, 85 per cent and 100 per cent of their monthly data allowance. Smaller providers have until September 2014.

''The past year has seen a big increase in the number of people who have made a complaint about an unexpectedly high bill,'' Ms Corbin said. ''This is a worrying trend because unaffordable phone bills can lead to serious credit problems for consumers if they want to apply for a credit card or mortgage later on.''

However, Mr Cohen said the overall drop in complaints was encouraging.

''There has been a clear trend, since April 2012, of reduced complaints, with the last quarter of 2011-12 being our quietest for almost two years,'' he said.

''This is a positive sign that reflects the focus by a number of telcos on improving their customer service.''