Complaints around landline, mobile and internet hit a new high in the latter half of 2016, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has revealed, in a report that highlights customer service, billing and internet services as consumers’ major pain points.
The TIO recorded 65,970 complaints against 324 phone and internet providers in Australia in the six months to 31 December 2016, constituting a 5 percent increase in the volume of grievances on the preceding six months, and a 33.8 percent increase compared to the same six months in 2015.
Customer service, billing and payments, faults and complaint handling were the most common complaints in phone and internet services.
Per segment, internet was the most controversial area, accounting for 24,641 complaints and up 53 percent on the same period in 2015. Mobile services weren’t far behind, causing 23,331 complaints, up 18.8 percent, while landline complaints were up 32 percent to 17,998.
The states most vocal in their dissatisfaction with their telco services (complaints per 1000 population) were Victoria and South Australia, followed by ACT and New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia and Northern Territory.
Residential consumers made up the lion's share of the unhappy customers, at 86.7 percent of the overall pool, with 13 percent of complaints coming from small businesses.
Services delivered over the NBN were up 6.8 percent on the previous six months and up 117.5 percent on the same period from 2015, though the TIO noted the rate of complaint increase was slower than the rate of the NBN rollout.
The information revealed was disappointing news for the industry, with the Communications Alliance’s chief executive John Stanton saying service providers who had a number of complaints filed against them throughout 2016 still had some work to do to improve customer satisfaction.
“Clearly, more remains to be done and Communications Alliance is working closely with its members on these challenges,” Stanton said.
“We have seen five years of falling complaint levels as a result of concerted industry action - dropping complaint volumes by close to 50 percent - so the recent setbacks reported by the TIO are a matter of serious concern and are being addressed.
“There is no doubt that the roll-out of the NBN and the additional implementation challenges it brings, have contributed to rising complaints, but it is pleasing to note that the growth rate in NBN-related complaints is slower than the rate of new premises being connected to the national broadband network.”