Phone and internet complaints turning a corner

Annual Report 2017-2018Residential consumers and small businesses made 167,831 complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman in the last financial year (1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018).

Complaints about phone and internet services increased by 6.2 per cent for the full year, however, complaints dropped by 17.8 per cent in the final quarter (April to June 2018) compared to quarter three (January to March 2018).

Publishing the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s 2017-18 Annual Report today (17 October 2018), Ombudsman Judi Jones said, “The number of complaints about telecommunications services in Australia appear to be turning a corner.

“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.  

“We all want to get to the same point, a positive consumer experience where expectations are more likely to be met. The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman continues to be committed to reducing complaints, and our purpose and unique role remains clear – to ensure residential consumers and small businesses have access to a free, fair, independent and effective alternative dispute resolution service.”

Complaint highlights for the period 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018 include:

  • 167,831 total complaints were received, an increase of 6.2 per cent.
  • Complaints overall dropped 17.8 per cent in Q4 of 2017/18 compared to Q3.
  • 146,958 complaints (87.6 per cent) were from residential consumers.
  • 20,433 complaints (12.2 per cent) were from small businesses.
  • Complaints from small businesses increased 8.7 per cent in 2017/18 to 20,433.
  • 52 potential systemic issues were notified to providers, and 30 systemic matters resulted in the provider agreeing to, or making, changes to its system, process or practice.
  • 51,328 complaints were about mobile phone services (30.6 per cent), followed by complaints about multiple services 49,875 (29.7 per cent).
  • 14,589 complaints were recorded in 2017/18 about establishing a connection to the National Broadband Network. Between 1 January and 30 June complaints per 1,000 premises added to the Network decreased from 9.2 to 9.0.
  • 27,008 complaints were recorded in 2017/18 about Service Quality on the National Broadband Network. Between 1 January and 30 June complaints per 1,000 premises added to the Network decreased from 4.1 to 3.2

Complaints about Landline, Mobile, Internet, Multiple Services and Property*

  • 51,328 complaints (30.6 per cent) were recorded about mobile phone services.
  • 49,875 complaints (29.7 per cent) were recorded about multiple services*.
  • 46,703 complaints (27.8 per cent) were recorded about internet services.
  • 18,736 complaints (11.2 per cent) were recorded about landline phone services.
  • 1,189 complaints (0.7 per cent) were recorded about property*.

Top Five Complaint Issues

  1. Complaints about no action or delayed action by a service provider to resolve phone or internet issues accounted for 34.1 per cent of total complaints.
  2. Complaints about disputed charges for service or equipment fees accounted for 25.5 per cent of total complaints.
  3. Complaints about delays connecting to or changing service providers accounted for 12.8 per cent of total complaints.
  4. Complaints about no service at all, including no internet connection or no dial tone on their phone service, accounted for 12.5 per cent of total complaints.
  5. Complaints about service drop outs, or instances where the service works one day but not the next, accounted for 10.1 per cent of total complaints.

Small Business Complaints

  • Complaints from small businesses increased 8.7 per cent in 2017/18 to 20,433. This increase was driven largely by multiple phone and internet issues and landline service complaints.
  • The main issues affecting small businesses were no action or delayed action by their provider to resolve their phone or internet issue, followed by complaints about disputed charges for service or equipment fees.

Complaints by State

  • Queensland recorded the highest growth in complaints, an increase of 13.2 per cent, followed by Western Australia with 10.7 per cent.
  • The highest proportion of complaints came from New South Wales with 31.6 per cent, followed by Victoria with 28.4 per cent.

Complaints by state (in alphabetical order):

  • Australian Capital Territory accounted for 1.5 per cent of total complaints, a year on year decrease of 5.6 per cent.
  • New South Wales accounted for 31.6 per cent of total complaints, a year on year increase of 4.9 per cent.
  • Northern Territory accounted for 0.6 per cent of total complaints, a year on year decrease of 0.1 per cent.
  • Queensland accounted for 19.6 per cent of total complaints, a year on year increase of 13.2 per cent.
  • South Australia accounted for 7.5 per cent of total complaints, a year on year increase of 1.1 per cent.
  • Tasmania accounted for 1.8 per cent of total complaints, a year on year increase of 0.7 per cent.
  • Victoria made accounted for 28.4 per cent of total complaints, a year on year increase of 9.3 per cent.
  • Western Australia accounted for 9 per cent of total complaints, a year on year increase of 10.7 per cent.

Complaints about Phone and Internet Service Providers

Ten phone and internet service providers accounted for 93.4 per cent of all complaints in 2017/18.

  • Telstra received 82,528 complaints, a year on year increase of 7.7 per cent.
  • Optus Group, including Virgin, received 40,665 complaints, a year on year increase of 35 per cent.
  • Vodafone received 9,752 complaints, a year on year decrease of 8.7 per cent.
  • iiNet received 7,719 complaints, a year on year decrease of 24.1 per cent.
  • TPG received 6,248 complaints, a year on year decrease of 10.7 per cent.
  • Dodo received 3,120 complaints, a year on year decrease of 5.7 per cent.
  • Primus received 1,918 complaints, a year on year increase of 0.1 per cent.
  • MyRepublic received 1,816 complaints, a year on year increase of 101.6 per cent.
  • M2 Commander received 1,565 complaints, a year on year decrease of 8.2 per cent.
  • Southern Phone received 1,484 complaints, a year on year decrease of 28.2 per cent.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

New Reporting

*From 1 July 2017, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman changed the categorisation of service types and issues about complaints received from residential consumers and small businesses.

The new categorisation has improved data collection, provided opportunities for better analysis of complaints, and improved reporting to the telecommunications industry, Government, and residential and small business consumers.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman is a free and independent dispute resolution and complaint handling service for residential consumers and small businesses who have an unresolved complaint about their phone or internet service in Australia. www.tio.com.au or 1800 062 058.

The Telecommunications Industry Sector

Government and the regulators set policy and regulations for the telecommunications sector. The Telecommunications industry regulators are the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) http://www.acma.gov.au Media enquiries to 02 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or media@acma.gov.au

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) https://www.accc.gov.au

Media enquiries to 1300 138 917, media@accc.gov.au After hours 0408 995 408.

Communications Alliance is the peak body for Australian communications industry http://www.commsalliance.com.au Media enquiries to Sefiani Communications, (www.sefiani.com.au) 0431 478 558.

Media enquiries to 0409 966 931 or 02 9288 4000.http://accan.org.au/index.phpThe Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) is Australia’s peak communications consumer organisation representing individuals, small businesses and not-for-profit groups as consumers of communications products and services.