Complaints against telcos have gone up six percent year-over-year due to customer service, service and equipment fees, service delivery and delays, according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).
The TIO’s annual complaints report revealed the total number of complaints it received from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018 came in at 167,831, compared to 158,016 in the same period last year, with 87.6 percent coming from residential customers.
Customer service was the top issue with 39 percent of the complaints, while payment issues such as billing, equipment charges and contract termination fees accounted for 36 percent.
The NBN was the subject of 41,597 complaints, of which 27,008 related to service quality and 14,589 concerned connections or changing providers.
“There’s still work to be done to improve industry performance. We want to ensure consumers are making informed choices and know their rights,” communications minister Mitch Fifield said.
Shadow comms minister Michelle Rowland of course differed.
“Whilst this shift in trend is welcome there is still much to do”, she said. “Consumer interactions remain too complex and poor customer service continues to leave many in the community wondering where the buck stops.”
Telstra coped the most complaints - 82,528 - for the year, a 7.7 percent year-on-year increase, followed by Optus (including Virgin Mobile) with 40,665 or a 35 percent increase. MyRepublic meanwhile saw its complaints double year-on-year to reach 1816, up from 901 in 2017.
On a quarterly basis, the total complaint numbers between Q3 and Q4 were down 17.8 percent, particularly on mobile, internet and those on multiple services.
“The number of complaints about telecommunications services in Australia appear to be turning a corner,” telecommunications industry ombudsman Judi Jones said.
“Declining complaints across all landline, mobile and internet services are a positive indicator of recent industry, government and regulator efforts to address the disruption to telecommunications products and services of the past few years.”
Jones added that the TIO continues to be committed to reducing complaints and to ensure residential consumers and small businesses have access to a free, fair, independent and effective alternative dispute resolution service.
“The government’s industry CEO roundtable on improving customer experience, the ACMA’s Complaints Handling Standard, NBN Co’s pricing changes and the ACCC’s broadband speed monitoring program are all making a difference,” Fifield said.
“I’m very pleased to see that as a result of this work, consumers are receiving improved service from the telecommunication industry. We have spoken to retail service providers, we’ve listened to end users and we are now seeing positive results.”
Story updated 17 October 12.36pm with clarifications on iiNet and Southern Phone's complaints numbers.