Aussie telco complaints are still on the rise

NBN-related complaints rose by 117.5 per cent year-on-year between 1 July and 31 December 2016

Complaints by Australians about their telecommunications services rose by more than a third in the six months ending December 2016, compared to the same period the year prior, according to the latest figures by the country’s consumer telco advocate.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) released its latest six-monthly update on 11 May, revealing that residential consumers and small businesses made 65,970 complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about their landline, mobile or internet services between 1 July and 31 December 2016.

The complaints were recorded against 324 phone and internet providers in Australia.

“The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has experienced an increase in complaints for phone and internet services, which were up 5.3 per cent from the preceding six months (1 January 2016 to 30 June 2016),” Ombudsman Judi Jones, said.

This equates to a 33.8 per cent increase in complaints compared to the same six-month period in 2015.

According to the latest figures, 86.7 per cent of complaints were from residential consumers, while 13 per cent were from small businesses.

Proportionally, Victoria and, surprisingly, South Australia made the most complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

Complaint hotspots for about phone and internet services, according to the latest figures, include customer service, billing and payments, faults and complaint handling, with 24,641 complaints recorded about internet services, a 53.6 per cent increase on the same six months in 2015.

Meanwhile, 23,331 complaints were recorded about mobile phones, an 18.8 per cent increase on the same six months in 2015, and 17,998 complaints were recorded about landlines, a 32 per cent increase on the same six months in 2015.

In the internet services segment, there was a 6.8 per cent increase in complaints about services delivered over the National Broadband Network (NBN) compared to the preceding six months. Compared to the same period the previous year, the increase represents a whopping 117.5 per cent.

However, the TIO stresses that the rate of increase in these complaints is slower than the rate of increase in the number of new premises connected to the NBN.

For services delivered over the NBN, 4,309 complaints were related to internet services, and 3,203 complaints were related to landline services.

For its part, nbn, the company behind the NBN rollout, claims that there has been a 30 per cent reduction in complaints about services delivered over the NBN from the previous half-year figures, when adjusted for the total number of activated premises.

The company said it saw an improvement in the rate of complaints concerning faults to 27 complaints for every 10,000 premises (0.27 per cent) activated on the NBN in the first half of the 2017 financial year, down from 35 complaints (0.35 per cent) in the second half of the 2016 financial year.

The findings come just over a month after the Australian competition watchdog revealed that it saw a nine per cent surge in telco industry complaints and inquiries in 2015-16, with NBN-related complaints rising by 145 per cent compared to the year prior.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) received 2775 complaints and inquiries relating to the local telecommunications industry during the 2015-16, according to figures in its latest annual telecommunications report, published on 8 March.

It also undertook 15 major investigations within the telco industry during the period.