According to Jones, the vast majority of broader telco complaints received by the TIO (90.8 per cent) were resolved by the residential consumer or small business and their phone or internet provider working directly together to solve the issues.
Overall, complaints about landline phones, mobile phones and internet services all increased, with residential consumers and small businesses making 158,016 complaints to the TIO in the financial year ending June.
In this period, complaints about landline phones, mobile phones and internet services increased by 41.1 per cent. The number of complaints recorded in 2016/17 is the highest level since 2012/13.
In total, 41,824 complaints were recorded about landline phones, a year on year increase of 30.1 per cent. Meanwhile, 52,300 complaints were recorded about mobile phones, a year on year increase of 27.5 per cent.
At the same time, 63,892 complaints were recorded about internet services, a year on year increase of 64.8 per cent.
Customer service, billing and payments, faults and complaint handling were the most common complaints about phone and internet services.
Of complaints about phone and internet providers in Australia, 76,650 were made about Telstra, a 43.5 per cent increase in complaints compared to the 53,425 received in 2015/16. 13,536 complaints about Telstra were associated with services delivered via the NBN.
Optus, meanwhile, was the subject of 28,766 complaints received by the TIO, representing a 31.2 per cent year-on-year increase compared to 2015-16, and Vodafone saw 10,684 complaints against its name – an increase of 37.5 per cent compared to the previous year.
At the same time, iiNet, now owned by TPG, saw a 79 per cent increase in complaints against it, with the total tally coming in at 10,170 for the year, while its parent company was the subject of 6,995 complaints, an increase of 44.9 per cent on the year prior.
Of the telcos listed in the TIO’s report, Virgin Mobile, owned by Optus, was the only one to see a reduction in complaints against it, with the TIO receiving just 1,354 complaints about the company, representing a drop of 11.6 per cent compared to 2015-16.
It should be noted that, of all the telcos named in the TIO’s report, Virgin Mobile was only one of two not selling services via the NBN, with Vodafone being the other.
Australian communications industry body, the Communications Alliance, noted that complaints to the TIO as a proportion of services in operation (SIO) for report participants fell to 8.3 complaints per 10,000 services for the period July to September 2017.
This compares to a ratio of 9.0 complaints per 10,000 SIO in the previous quarter and is the lowest ratio since October to December 2016, the Communications Alliance noted.
“The industry is dealing with significant disruption that has been difficult for some customers and has generated worrying increases in complaint levels during the past 12 months (following four years of continuous reduction in complaints),” the Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, said.