Qld, WA, record highest spike in telco complaints

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Australia’s Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has revealed that some states get more than their fair share of telco complaints.

Between 1 July and 31 December 2017, customers in Queensland and Western Australia recorded the biggest increase in complaints about phone and internet service providers.

Queensland complaints increased 39.3 per cent, while WA recorded a 36.5 per cent increase compared with the same time in 2016. This brought the totals for each state to over 16,000 and 7,000 complaints respectively.

The report showed that complaints from Australian residential consumers and small businesses increased 28.7 per cent on the whole from the same time last year, reaching 84,914 complaints in total.

Ombudsman Judi Jones put the increase in complaints down to the rapidly changing telco landscape.

“The telecommunications industry in Australia continues to experience significant change. An increasing range of products and services are being offered to consumers, expectations for the quality of phone and internet services are high and the rollout of the National Broadband Network is changing the way we use telecommunications services,” Ms Jones said.

The main issues affecting Australians were about charges and fees, unsatisfactory responses from providers and poor service quality.

Ms Jones said: “Consumers still seem to be facing the same problems, particularly with their bills and the customer service they receive. Confidence in services being updated or transferred reliability, faulty equipment, and poor service quality were also recorded as key issues. Additionally, the wider issues relating to phone or internet problems such as debt management are concerning.”

While Queensland and WA recorded the biggest percentage increases, New South Wales and Victoria still recorded the most complaints, with nearly 27,000 and 24,000 complaints respectively.

From July 2017, the TIO changed the way it records complaints and now has five different complaint categories – landline phone services, mobile phone services, internet services, multiple services and complaints over damage or access to property.

National Broadband Network complaints double

Despite the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently reporting a ‘better than expected’ result over NBN speeds, complaints are still rife about Australia’s new high-speed network.

The TIO noted in its latest report that complaints about the NBN rose 203.9 per cent between July and December 2017, compared to the same period in 2016. This brought the total number of complaints to 22,827.

Ms Jones said: “Complaints about services delivered over the National Broadband Network continued to increase compared to the same six-month period in 2016. This indicates the consumer experience is still not meting expectations for all. Recent changes to regulation and an increase in our powers to resolve complaints are positive steps that will help improve the consumer experience.”

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