New Phone Rights app helps solve your phone woes

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CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

A new app by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) will help you resolve phone and network issues on the spot.

(Credit: ACCAN)

Although mobile service is supposedly improving all the time, there are problems that continue to recur; reception black spots, poor customer service, higher bills than you were expecting. These don't just pertain to your mobile phone, either: when it comes to your mobile, landline and internet services, you have rights when it comes to the service you can expect to receive.

Phone Rights by ACCAN for iPhone and Android is a multi-purpose tool designed around those rights. It helps break down what rights that you, as a consumer, have and the obligations of telecommunications providers, under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code.

This takes the form of tips, advice, help videos (with the app warning that you should try to watch them via Wi-Fi, if possible) and frequently asked questions, such as what you need to know before signing a phone contract, how to avoid bill shock, what you need to know before travelling overseas and the hidden costs of "free" apps; but it has a few more immediately practical features as well.

The first is a list of troubleshooting tips, such as what to do when your phone reception is continuously spotty or if your service provider refuses to deal with your complaint. Exactly how consumer-focused the app really is comes to light in the "I can't afford to pay my bill", which lists short-term actions, such as don't panic, and advice about what sort of warning your provider has to give before disconnecting your service — but it also includes contact information for Financial Counselling Australia to help you find a more long-term solution.

We particularly like the reception test in the Android version of the app, which tests your signal strength. Once the test is completed, you can then create a log of it, along with your location, and email it from within the app to your service provider.

For iPhone users, no such test is available — instead, though, you can send a screenshot showing your signal strength and location to your provider.

However, if you need to get in touch with your service provider for any other reason, the app contains built-in contact details in the My Complaints section. Eighteen mobile providers are listed with whatever available contact details they have: phone, email, online complaint form, Twitter and Facebook.

And then if there is no recourse left to help you solve your problem, you can also find, clearly labelled, contact information for the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, which can help you mediate with your service provider.

Navigation is a little confusing, but all the information is there if you poke around a bit. It's an app that's clearly been designed with help in mind, and one we think absolutely worth downloading.

Phone Rights for Android (Free)
Phone Rights for iOS (Free)

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jmt67au posted a comment   

Has anyone at CNET actually looked at this app in full detail?
Quote "We particularly like the reception test, which tests your signal strength". Unless I am missing something it would appear (on the iOS) app, that there is no such "signal strength test". The app asks you to take a screen shot of your signal strength indicator and then helps you to maintain a log. If I'm correct in my quick assessment then I don't know where to start to explain how wrong this is. Such a test has been sadly missing for iOS devices. I had a quick look at the Android version and yes there is a test which is much better.
Happy for someone to explain I'm incorrect.


Michelle Starr posted a reply   

I apologise, you are indeed correct. I tested the Android version, since I don't have an iPhone. Thank you for pointing that out, I've amended the story accordingly.


MarkACCAN posted a reply   

Hi there,

Unfortunately Apple did not allow the use of private APIs to be used for this app, hence the difference in the 'log poor reception' tool between iOS and Android devices.

We believe we came up with the next best thing, which still allows you to capture your signal strength, time, date and location which you can use as evidence to your provider that you have poor mobile coverage.

Hope this answers your question.


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