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Complaints to Australia's telco ombudsman continue on a downward trend

The number of telco complaints is now at the lowest since quarterly numbers began being released in 2017.
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Written by Aimee Chanthadavong on
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Despite inaction or delays by telco providers being the top issue that consumers complained about during the three-month period from July to September 2021, the total number of complaints that were reported to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman fell 37% year-on-year.

For the first quarter of the 2022 financial year, the TIO reported receiving a total of 21,489 complaints, a significant difference to the 34,396 complaints reporting during the same period last year.

When compared to the last quarter, complaints about phone and internet services by residential consumers and small businesses declined by 11% from 24,195. Most noticeably, there was almost a 27% drop off in complaints from small businesses on a quarter-by-quarter basis to 3,000.

The TIO said based on the Q1 results, telco complaints have fallen for the fourth consecutive period.

"This quarter's results continue the positive trend for telcos and consumers. I encourage the telcos to stay this course, keep listening to consumers and actively work with their customers to fix problems as they arise," Ombudsman Judi Jones said.

Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton attributed the decrease -- which is the lowest number of complaints for a quarter since numbers became available by quarter in 2017 -- on the "hard work" by telcos.

"Telcos have worked on improving their processes, so problems don't arise in the first place, and on helping customers more quickly if there is an issue, so the customer doesn't need to approach the Ombudsman for assistance," he said.

"Australia's telecommunications industry is providing excellent connection for good value, and consumers are well served by the Industry's Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code, enforced by the regulator."

Based on the quarterly TIO report [PDF], mobile was the most complained about service type, with consumers expressing dissatisfaction with service coverage and quality. Complaints about internet services followed closely behind.

Nearly half of total complaints, 10,347 were in relation to fault and connection issues. Poor mobile coverage also re-entered into the top 10 as the 9th most complained issue, while complaints about missed appointments dropped out moving into 13th place.

As for the number of complaints per provider, Optus, Dodo, Boost, and Harbour ISP all recorded increases, TIO said.

The TIO also highlighted that 3,835 complaints came back unresolved from providers, and another 3,516 unresolved complaints were escalated for dispute resolution. More than a third of unresolved complaints were in relation to service and equipment fees.

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