Customer service, service and equipment fees, service delivery and delays, continue to remain the top issues among consumers in the latest Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) 2017/2018 report.
The yearly report indicated consumers and small businesses made 167,831 complaints in the past financial year about telco providers, increasing 6.2 per cent.
Despite this, complaints for the final quarter (April to June 2018) dropped 17.8 per cent compared to the previous quarter (January to March 2018).
“The number of complaints about telecommunications services in Australia appear to be turning a corner,” 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.”
Complaints from small businesses increased 8.7 per cent to 20,433 while 146,958 complaints came from residential consumers.
During the year there were 52 systemic issues notified to providers, with 30 systemic matters resulting in the provider agreeing to, or making changes to its system, process or practice.
There were 51,328 complaints made about mobile phone services (30.6 per cent), followed by 49,875 complaints about multiple services. About 14,589 complaints were made about establishing a connection to the national broadband network (NBN) with about 27,008 complaints about the quality of service on the NBN, which was down seven per cent.
Of the complaints to the TIO about services delivered over the NBN network, only five per cent were sent to NBN Co to resolve.
In a statement, NBN Co chief customer officer, Brad Whitcomb, said collaboration between NBN Co and the wider industry to help improve the customer experience, was beginning to bear fruit.
“Over the past year in particular, we focused our efforts to improve those aspects of the customer experience within our control, keeping the consumer at the forefront of our decisions,” Whitcomb said.
NBN Co particularly highlighted a number of targeted efforts to improve its customer experience including new wholesale discount pricing bundles for retailers; pausing the sale of HFC services to allow necessary optimisation works to help improve the quality of the network and reduce faults; improving the ability to install NBN equipment correctly the first time; and new tools to help diagnose and understand faults on the network.
Particularly emphasising the fourth quarter drop in complaints, communications minister, Mitch Fifield, said 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 were all making a difference.
The number of complaints about services delivered over the NBN as a proportion of total NBN-activated premises is around one per cent, despite the network roughly doubling in size in the last twelve months.
“There’s still work to be done to improve industry performance. We want to ensure consumers are making informed choices and know their rights,” Minister Fifield said.
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman is a not-for-profit company which provides an independent dispute resolution service for telephone and internet complaints.
The top 10 telco providers accounted for 93.4 per cent of all complaints for the year, with Telstra topping the list receiving 82,528 complaints; Optus came in second with 40,665 complaints and Vodafone took third spot with 9,752 complaints.
iiNet received 7,719 complaints followed by TPG (6,248); Dodo (3,120); Primus (1,918); MyRepublic (1,816); M2 Commander (1,565) and Southern Phone rounded out the top ten with 1,484 complaints.