Telco complaints at lowest point since late 2016: Comms Alliance

Optus remains the most complained about telco in Australia, according to the Communications Alliance.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
(Image: Communications Alliance)

Optus has continued its year-long residence at the top of the Communications Alliance's Complaints in Context index that sees the telco most often having complaints referred to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) as a proportion of services in operation.

Across the period from April to June 2018, Optus saw 9.4 complaints per 10,000 services, followed by Telstra with 7.9, Vodafone on 3.5, and Amaysim and Pivotel having 0.9 and 0.8 complaints per 10,000 services respectively.

Overall, complaints per 10,000 services dropped to 7.5, down from 9 at the same time last year, and 9.3 from the quarter prior.

Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton said despite a challenging 18 months for telcos, customer service improvements were beginning to have an impact.

"Every single participant in the Complaints in Context report achieved a decrease in their ratio of new complaints to services in operation, and I congratulate each of them on their successful efforts," he said.

"Significantly, these results were achieved before the slew of new rules being imposed by the ACMA came into effect."

Currently, the information gathered is voluntary, but the index would be expanded to compulsorily include the top 10 telcos if proposed changes to the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code are legislated.

The Comms Alliance also took the opportunity to hit out again at an Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) consumer survey this week, which saw a telco in the process of shutting down take out the top gong.

Also see: Telstra's new mobile plans are all about fixing customer service

According to ACCAN, of the telcos that customers can change over to, Vodafone provided the best service, followed by TPG/iiNet, Amaysim, Dodo/iPrimus, Skymesh, Telstra, Optus, Activ8me, and in last place Telstra-owned Belong.

The survey of 1,347 customers conducted in late February to mid March for ACCAN said heading into a store will resolve an issue in eight days on average, almost twice as quick than complaining on social media, at 15.5 days. Using online chat results in an average 19.6-day resolution time, while phoning the telco takes over 23 days, and email resolution lasts a month, at a 30-day resolution time.

"We found customers are spending days trying to sort out very straightforward things like changing a plan, updating contact details, and general account inquiries. This is not acceptable," ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin said on Monday.

"It's time to shift the balance back to telcos so that customers are not carrying such heavy costs to maintain their essential telecommunications services."

In response, the Communications Alliance said ACCAN had cherry picked the data presented by the survey, and today said its data was more relevant.

"The results are far more current than research released by ACCAN at the weekend, which related to customer experiences dating back as far as February 2017," Stanton said.

"The Complaints in Context report is a valuable and timely gauge of customer experience. It provides clear and comparable information to the public, provided by an independent source."

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