Australian telco complaints to TIO continue to decrease despite rise in mobile issues

The TIO third-quarter 2020-21 complaints report shows there were 30,393 total complaints, with 35% being in relation to mobile services.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor
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The latest Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) complaints report has revealed there was a rise in mobile complaints during the third quarter of 2020-21, but it was not enough to hurt the total number of complaints that includes those made by residential consumers and small businesses.

The third quarter report shows that 30,393 complaints were made between January and March 2021, 101 fewer complaints than last quarter and 4,004 less than the start of 2020-21 when there was an increase in complaints. On a year-on-year basis, there was a 6.1% drop in complaints.

Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton said the drop in overall complaints was a sign of telcos improving their service level.

"Everyone knows it is frustrating when it is hard to contact service providers in any industry to get an issue dealt with -- so the evident strong improvement in telcos being reachable and available to deliver good customer service is very welcome," he said.

Mobile continued to be the most complained about service type with 10,572 complaints, which accounted for 35% of all complaints, and it was the highest portion in the last five years. This was followed closely by complaints about internet, which the TIO received 9,695 complaints about.

When examining what the complaints were specifically about, 47% were related to fault and connection issues, such as not having any phone or internet services, experiencing delays in establishing a service, intermittent service or dropouts, and slow data speed.

The report also pointed out that 43% of all complaints were about having no or delayed action by a provider and a third complained about service and equipment fees.

Problems around inadequate fault testing also emerged as an issue during the quarter, while complaints about variations to a contract or plan by a provider continued a downward trend.

The third-quarter TIO report also showed that Foxtel is now in the top 10 most complained about providers, replacing M2 Commander.

The TIO said while overall complaint volumes decreased over the last two quarters, complaints returning as unresolved from telcos was higher than it had previously observed with Q3 showing that over 20% of referrals in Q2 returned as unresolved.

"Complaints reflect the consumer experience of their phone and internet services and interactions with their telco. While the decline in overall complaints is a positive sign, the increase in complaints coming back to us unresolved is concerning. We will continue monitoring this trend and working with the telcos on the problems as they emerge," TIO ombudsman Judi Jones said.

Last month, TIO admitted telco complaint figures are not always a good indicator of how widespread a problem can be. It pointed out there were instances where a certain telco's selling practice during a promotion had less than 100 complaints, but after investigating, it recognised the issue was actually widespread.

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