Telecommunications giant Telstra has topped the most-complained about carrier rankings this year, amid a wider fall in overall numbers.
Australia’s biggest provider hit 66,402 Ombudsman complaints — more than half the total number — in the 2018-2019 window, a 19.5 per cent drop from the previous period.
Of these,17,381 were related to its NBN services, more than 10 per cent of the total number.
Telstra has 18.3 million retail mobile services in operation, 3.7 million broadband and data services and 1.4 million voice-only fixed services.
“We’ve seen a significant drop in our TIO complaints this year, down 19.5 per cent from last year. There is more we can do and we continue to focus on getting our customer experience right first time," a Telstra spokesperson said.
"Our recent product changes, such as no lock-in contacts, no excess data charges and the flexibility to build your own mobile plans, will help to further reduce customer issues and complaints. We continue to work closely with NBN Co to make the migration experience for customers as smooth as possible and to give them the best possible experience once they’ve made the move.”
Across the board, more than 132,300 consumers and small businesses complained about the telco services, according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), a 21 per cent fall from last year.
Residential customers accounted for the majority of these, reaching 112,895 people, while SMB complaints hit 19,165, a 23 per cent and 6.2 per cent drop respectively.
Meanwhile, across the other providers, Optus was the second-most complained about service, reaching 31,629, of which 7,329 were about NBN.
Vodafone took third place with 6,784, while iiNet and TPG took fourth and fifth place with more than 5,000 each.
Notably, over last year, internet services surpassed mobile complaints to the watchdog, reaching 43,164 over 40,103.
Topping the gripe list were service and equipment fees and no action or delayed action by a provider, followed by connection quality and difficulties establishing an internet service connection.
Half of all issues related to connections, changing providers and the quality of the service. More than 11,000 complaints were related to changing providers or establishing a connection to the NBN.
Meanwhile, the Ombudsman identified 53 potential systematic issues; these ranged from poor sales practices resulting in consumers obtaining products and services they did not want or understand, plus failing to provide consumers with product and service usage information.
Other issues included weaknesses in customer authentication or account security, allowing fraud to occur. In addition, the watchdog flagged telcos persistent failing to adequately respond to and resolve complaints from customers.
“We continue to be active in identifying, investigating, resolving and reporting on issues that may negatively impact a wide number of residential consumers and small businesses,” the Ombudsman said.
“By working with the industry and raising awareness of these issues, we drive improvements and better outcomes in the delivery of telecommunications services.”