Complaints drop 25 percent but Vodafone still Australia's worst: TIO

Summary:The TIO fielded 25 percent fewer complaints about Vodafone in the 2012-13 financial year, but the troubled telco still got more complaints than Telstra and Optus put together.

An executive commitment to improving customer service may have helped drive a 25 percent  reduction in complaints about mobile telcos and an 18 percent reduction in telecoms-industry complaints overall – but number-three telco Vodafone still received more complaints in 2012-13 than Telstra and Optus put together, according to new figures released by Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) Simon Cohen.

The troubled company, which embarked on a massive network overhaul several years ago in the face of plunging subscribed numbers that saw it shed 551,000 subscribers  in the first half of 2013 alone – received 39,758 complaints about its mobile services during the year.

Vodafone-Store
Vodafone better, but still has much work to do. Photo: David Braue

By comparison, Telstra received 20,773 complaints in the last financial year and Optus, 18,143; the two together received 38,916 complaints, just shy of Vodafone’s number.

The results marked a 24.8 percent improvement on Vodafone’s previous year, when Vodafone customers lodged 52,894 complaints with the TIO.

Cohen lauded the progress made by Australia’s telcos, which delivered the lowest levels of customer complaints in five years, and in particular noted the commitment by telco executives to improving customer service overall.

“Telecommunications industry leaders are recognising that doing better by their customers is good for business,” he explained. “CEOs of large telcos are making it a business priority to do better by their customers.”

Of Vodafone’s results, Cohen noted that the company’s complaint levels were “the lowest in three years”, with “substantially fewer billing and payment complaints”.

“We should really receive no complaints from consumers where a telco hasn’t kept its promise. That’s a real area where telcos can continue to improve.”

Continued implementation of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) Code should drive ongoing improvements in complaint levels, Cohen said, as telcos introduce spend management tools to help customers anticipate their roaming and general-usage bills.

Telstra, for one, was formally warned  in September for overcharging customers for around $30m in data roaming charges.

Vodafone – which has addressed bill shock with a initiatives such as a $5-per-day global roaming plan  – has been quietly bolstering its 3G and 4G networks, with CEO Bill Morrow recently bragging  that its network is now faster than that of Telstra and Optus but that the company still doesn’t “have the credit, the respect enough, to say we are back….We have to just ask [customers] to reconsider us. You tell us what you think.”

With one in five TIO complaints pertaining to broken promises by telcos, Cohen was optimistic that changes introduced by carriers would help them continue improving going forward.

“We were hearing about service providers giving a commitment about how they were going to resolve the complaint, and consumers coming to tell us that commitment had not been met,” Cohen said.

“That’s a key area where telcos should continue to do better. We should really receive no complaints from consumers where a telco hasn’t kept its promise. That’s a real area where telcos can continue to improve.”

Vodafone-Results

Source: Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

 

TIO-2013-results-Telstra

 Source: Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

 

TIO-2013-results-Optus

 Source: Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

Topics: Telcos, Australia, Mobility, Optus, Telstra

About

As large as the US mainland but with a smaller population than Texas, Australia relies on ICT innovation to maintain its position as a first-world democracy and a role model for the developing Asia-Pacific region. Award-winning journalist David Braue has covered Australia’s IT and telecoms sectors since 1995 – and he’s as quick to draw le... Full Bio

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