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Phone and internet complaints are on the rise post Optus data breach

The Quarter Two Complaints Report released by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has found an increase in the number of phone and internet complaints received between October and December 2022.

Over 17,900 total complaints were referred to providers, with mobile services the most complained about service, increasing 19.1% since the last quarter. Internet complaints had also increased by 10.2%, while landline services saw a decrease of complaints by 20.2%.

Fault and connection issues accounted for over a third of complaints (37.6%) overall, and 88% of complainants were residential consumers.

Complaints increase a fallout from Optus data hack, says TIO

Despite TIO complaints having decreased during the Q4 21-22 and Q1 22-23 periods, this increase during the Q2 22-23 period can be largely attributed to the fallout of the Optus data hack, which occurred in September 2022.

Complaints related to the unauthorised disclosure of personal information jumped up to the third most complained about issue — a problem that didn’t even feature in the top 5 issues in the Q1 22-23 report.

Ombudsman Cynthia Gebert said “We began to see the impact of the Optus data breach on our mobile complaint issues at the end of the previous quarter, but the complaints from this period of October to December really highlight the problems people are experiencing because of the breach.”

“Privacy and the unauthorised disclosure of personal information are not the only issues for consumers. We’re also handling an increased number of complaints from Optus customers about disputed termination fees, customer service problems, and failing to cancel a mobile service.”

Of all the telcos complained about, there was a 39.3% increase of complaints specifically about Optus.

“We’re continuing to work closely with Optus to ensure consistent approaches are being taken to resolving complaints so that people can get a fair and reasonable outcome, and we have adapted how we work to handle the higher volume of complaints we received,” said Ms Gebert.

iiNet also saw an increase in complaints by 20.8%, while both Vodafone and TPG saw smaller increases and the other top 10 companies saw complaint decreases. Despite a slight drop in the number of complaints received, Telstra still remains the most complained-about telco, receiving 38% of the complaints, closely followed by Optus at 36%. The most complaints overall were mobile customers of Optus, accounting for 4,288 complaints out of its overall 6,436 complaints.

Poor customer service still the top issue

Despite the obvious fall out from the Optus data breach, poor customer service, such as no or delayed action by a telco, is still the most complained about issue, followed by complaints about service and equipment fees.

Although complaints about having no phone or internet service have risen from the last quarter (from 1,446 up to 1,663), it still only accounts for around 9% of the overall complaints.

If you’re experiencing an issue with your current phone or internet provider, or you’re unsatisfied with the customer service you’ve experienced, it might be worth switching telcos altogether.

“While price and performance are still important, quality customer service is also a major deciding factor for Australians when comparing phone and broadband providers,” said Canstar Blue Utilities Editor, Tara Donnelly.

“A focus on efficient and often Australian-based customer service has become a big selling point for many smaller telcos — while you may not get the in-person experience offered by Optus, Telstra or Vodafone’s brick-and-mortar stores, options such as online chat and self-service apps provide a convenient alternative.”

While there is no guarantee that you will have a completely flawless experience with a telco — and experiences will differ from person to person — it always helps to compare a range of plans and providers, no matter what service you are looking for.

“If you’ve been burned by poor service from your previous telco, consider the customer service options available from providers when you’re shopping around for a new phone or internet plan, as well as each brand’s overall reputation when it comes to solving customer problems,” said Ms Donnelly.

If you’re keen to know which telcos have received high praise from other Aussies for their customer service, you can check out Canstar Blue’s awards for Most Satisfied Customers across a range of phone and internet services.

Keep in mind that experiences will differ between customers, and these ratings provide an overall guide on the experiences other Aussies have had with their current service provider. Plans from top-rated telcos might also not suit your plan or budget needs, so it still helps to compare a wide range of plans and providers to find the best plan to suit your needs.

Compare SIM-only phone plans

If you’re unhappy with your current phone provider,or you’re just in the market for a new SIM-only phone plan, there’s a wide range of plans and providers to choose from.

Here is a selection of postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database with a minimum of 20GB of data, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Try using our mobile phone plan comparison tool to see a wide range of plans from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.

Here is a selection of prepaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database with a minimum of 10GB of data each month, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. If you want to compare a larger range of offers from other providers, use our phone plan comparison tool. This table includes products with links to referral partners.

Compare NBN plans

For anyone looking to switch NBN providers, there are plenty of NBN providers offering plans on a range of speed tiers. The below table shows a selection of NBN plans across different speed tiers — switch between the tabs to view each speed tier.

Unlimited NBN 100 Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited NBN 100 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Unlimited NBN 50 Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited NBN 50 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Unlimited NBN 25 Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited NBN 25 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Unlimited NBN 12 Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited NBN 12 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Emma Bradstock
Telco Specialist
Emma Bradstock has been an authority on consumer phone, internet, technology and streaming markets in Australia for over 5 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Media from Macquarie University and has over a decade of professional writing experience in print and digital media.

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