Report reveals drop in telco complaints, but longer wait times
Telcos received just over one million complaints in the 2020–21 financial year, according to figures released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).The report also revealed that the average time taken for telcos to resolve customer complaints was 12.2 days. ACMA Authority Member Fiona Cameron said rules introduced by ACMA in 2018–19 contributed to a decline in complaints of more than 35% from just under 1.7 million, but the time taken by telcos to fix problems had increased by 49% in two years, from 8.2 days in 2018–19.
“The time taken to resolve complaints is going in the wrong direction and one million complaints a year is still far too many. With so many people working from home due to COVID restrictions, it is more important than ever that telcos prioritise fixing problems and we are looking to industry to improve in this area,” Cameron said.
The report also revealed that the rate of complaints that were not resolved by telcos and had to be escalated to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has also increased, from 7.8% to 10.7% in two years. This suggests that some telcos are not handling complaints well, and other smaller telcos are not recording complaints at all. “Seven smaller telcos have absurdly high escalation rates, just above 50%, which indicates that some complaints are not being recorded in the first place and only being logged when escalated to the TIO,” Cameron said.
The ACMA will follow up with these telcos to ensure that they understand their obligations to log all complaints as required under the Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints Handling) Industry Standard. The data comes from ACMA’s Annual telco complaints report 2020/21, which offers anonymised, aggregated time-series data on how more than 30 top telcos are performing and areas where they need to improve. “We think it’s time for every telco to make its complaints-handling performance public and transparent. This would allow consumers to make more informed decisions when choosing a telco provider, including what to expect when things don’t go to plan,” Cameron said.
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