Australian telco ombudsman understaffed for complaints handling

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has reported a significant rise in customers complaining about dodgy fixed line services and mobile services but has lacked the resources to address those complaints

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) saw a significant jump in the number of new complaints relating to both mobile and fixed line telecommunications services, but said that it didn't have enough resources to handle the complaints in a timely fashion.

For the first three months of 2013, the TIO received 40,021 new complaints, a 4.5 percent jump from the 38,287 complaints received in the last three months of 2012.

While mobile complaints remained the dominant issue with 22,918 new complaints in the quarter, it only saw a 0.7 percent rise in total complains. There was an 8.8 percent rise in complaints about landline services and a 12.4 percent rise in complaints about internet services. The TIO said that this included complaints about internet services that were slow or would drop out, or landline service that were unusable.

Ombudsman Simon Cohen said that a rise in the number of complaints about faults were a result of the natural disasters that happened over summer including the floods in Victoria and the bushfires in Tasmania.

"It is good to see fewer complaints than 12 months ago, and in particular fewer complaint handling issues being raised by consumers," he said in a statement. "However, the summer wet season has impacted on landline and internet services."

Cohen admitted that the increased number of complaints has put a strain on the TIO's responsiveness.

"Some consumers have waited for a number of minutes before we have been able to answer their calls, and those who have emailed us have sometimes waited several weeks for us to assess their complaints," he said. "There have also been significant delays with some matters requiring conciliation or investigation, which is regrettable."

The TIO was now looking to hire more staff and improving communication with people who are waiting to complain to the TIO.

Overall Melbourne registered the highest number of new complaints per population, followed by Parramatta, Merrylands, Chifley and Bankstown. Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales register the most complaints per population overall.


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