Telco complaints fall 27.7% in 2H18

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Thursday, 11 April, 2019

Telco complaints fall 27.7% in 2H18

The ongoing decline in complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) is an encouraging sign, but the industry must do more to meet the needs of residential and small business customers, according to Ombusdman Judi Jones.

Complaints to the TIO declined 27.7% year-on-year during the last six months of 2018 to 60,998, the regulator’s latest six-month update shows.

Complaints about landline phone services decreased by 18% and accounted for 12.6% of the total; complaints about mobile services fell 19% and constituted 30.6% of the total; and complaints about internet services fell 21% and made up 30.6% of complaints.

The remaining complaints related to multiple services (23.3%) or property-related issues (0.8%). The total number of these complaints fell by 45% and 24% respectively.

But Jones said these figures do not tell the full story, noting that complaints related to internet services increased slightly during the final quarter of the year.

“This shows the telecommunications sector must continue to focus on meeting the needs of the residential consumers and small businesses that are increasingly reliant on being connected to phone and internet services,” she said.

“Complaints about services delivered over the nbn have decreased compared to the same six-month period in 2017. While this decrease is encouraging, we continue to work with phone and internet service providers, the telco industry and regulators to address issues as they arise and to improve the customer experience.”

The top five complaint issues included no or delayed action on a customer’s issue by their service provider (18,845), disputed charges for services or equipment (18,324), no working phone or internet services (8025), delays with connections or switching providers (7202), and complaints about intermittent service or dropouts (6387).

Meanwhile, while the overall number of complaints being filed by small businesses fell by 6.4% during the six-month period, the proportion of complaints from small businesses increased to 15.2% from 11.7% a year earlier.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said the results demonstrate that “the measures put in place by the government and regulators as well as the efforts of industry are continuing to deliver results”.

But he stressed that “one complaint is a complaint too many” and there is plenty of room for improvement.

John Stanton, CEO of telecommunications industry peak body Communications Alliance, concurred.

“These latest results do not represent ‘job done’, by any means. Industry recognises that there are still challenges to overcome and that we are still in the middle of an accelerating [nbn] rollout — with multiple partners in the supply chain — that inevitably generates a degree of disruption and a level of customer complaints,” he said.

“We look forward to the upcoming registration of the improved and strengthened Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code, as an additional tool to help generate further sustained improvements in customer experience. We also welcome the TIO’s proposed transition to quarterly reporting as this will provide ongoing and timely information on issues that consumers may be experiencing.”

ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin noted that the results show that nbn service quality complaints per thousand premises added to the network nearly halved year-on-year.

“[This is] potentially due the introduction of the ACMA’s NBN Line Testing Determination that was introduced in late September 2018. As we head towards 2020 with the aim of connecting every Australian household to the nbn, it’s positive to see that steps such as these by the ACMA are making a difference to consumers’ nbn experience.”

Image credit: ©Scott Griessel/Dollar Photo Club

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