NSW Australian Consumer Law - Breaking A Mobile Phone Contract?

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I am at my whits end with this issue, and I have no idea what my rights are! I am stuck in a contract with a phone provider for the next 18 months and I have been a loyal customer of theirs for the past 5 years.

Recently the mobile coverage I have experienced is abysmal. My phone diverts to voicemail without ringing. Messages bounce back or do not send. The calls I make never connect, or drop out shortly after connecting. I have no coverage in both Sydney, and regional NSW.
I have received an array of responses from the phone company including the following:

"You live in Ryde, your contract states that the phone must work in your suburb of residence, anywhere outside of that suburb is unfortunately not covered by a guarantee." (I live and work in Sydney, surely if anywhere in Australia should be guaranteed strong coverage, it's a capital city. It is a MOBILE PHONE PLAN, it is meant to be MOBILE.)

After I contacted the ombudsman, the company agreed they would look into the issue, and asked me to continue using the phone so that they could see evidence of call drop outs and message failures. They refused to use the 5 years of data history they already had of mine. Unfortunately, I had started using an alternate service provider because I couldn't rely on my phone anymore (I live alone, and I don't have a home phone) Now they are making me pay out the last 18 months of the contract.

Is there any way around this under Australian consumer law?
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John R

Well-Known Member
14 April 2014
Hi LeanneB,
  1. Have you reviewed the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman's (TIO) Mobile Phone Dropouts and Poor Coverage information sheet? It is a good starting point for resolving poor coverage disputes.
  2. Have you written a letter/email to your previous mobile phone provider advising them that you wish to cancel your contract because of the poor service? This assumes that you've reviewed the ACCC's guide on Cancelling a Service and, among other things, given the mobile phone provider has had reasonable time to investigate your issue.
  3. Are you also under contract with the alternate mobile phone provider?
Please keep us updated with your progress (hopefully your Internet access is a bit more reliable than your mobile reception)!
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Hi John,

I have been on the Ombudsman website so many times and I have NEVER seen that checklist before! Thank you! I have written them a letter and filed a complaint with the ombudsman but I never followed through with it because the company I was with told me I had to use my service to prove I was having call dropouts...
The other provider is only a prepaid account! I am never getting a phone plan again.

I will keep you updated!

Thank you for your help, much appreciated!
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