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

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 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.”


Source: Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman



 Source: Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman



 Source: Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

Topics: Telcos, Mobility, Optus, Telstra, Australia


Australia’s first-world economy relies on first-rate IT and telecommunications innovation. David Braue, an award-winning IT journalist and former Macworld editor, covers its challenges, successes and lessons learned as it uses ICT to assert its leadership in the developing Asia-Pacific region – and strengthen its reputation on the world stage.

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  • Vodafone missing the mark badly

    Morrow was brought in to "fix" Vodafone and in the process proudly removed most of the Exec team and the GM layer beneath them , being quite clear internally that this was required. One of the upshots of that was a complete loss of IP and knowledge of not only the past but of the requirements to fix the issues. Morrow sold himself to staff as the person who would repair the damage. However there is yet another data point to say that neither he nor his team have the skills or knowledge to repair the company. Not only is Vodafone the most complained about looking at the numbers since June last year the complaints have been slowly increasing at a time when the subscriber base is shrinking. And each time there is bad news to be made public on the shrinking customer base Morrow comes up with another reason related to the past - this time it was SIMS given away (never happened), in fact anything but he and his own team taking responsibility for the increasing poor results. He will not admit that his strategy is flawed however the customers are either voting with their feet or by complaining. Perhaps he needs to tell us all at what point does it stop being everyone else's fault.