Wednesday, 25 September 2019 01:42

Internet services overtake mobile services as complaints leader Featured

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Internet services overtake mobile services as complaints leader Image Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Complaints about internet services replaced complaints over mobile services as the most complained about service type in the last financial year, according to the latest Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman report.

The TIO’s annual report 2018-19 reveals a continuation of the overall downward trend in complaints across the telecoms industry, with both phone and internet complaints down.

For the 12 months to the end of June 2019, 43,164 complaints about Internet services were received by the TIO compared to 40,203 about mobile services.

And the TIO was confronted by what it says were more complex technical and small business issues as both residential consumers and small businesses made a total of 132,387 complaints for the year – a decrease of 21.1%.

The greater complexity saw complaints returning as unresolved — where the consumer and provider could not reach resolution — take longer for the TIO to close.

“The volume of complaints coming back to us unresolved shows an emerging picture of complexity in technical and small business issues,” said Ombudsman Judi Jones.

“Some measures we have taken to address this are the formation of specialist teams to handle these escalated complaints, and working closely with the phone and internet providers to better understand the barriers to resolving these issues.

“For the first time we are reporting on the top five issues in internet, mobile and landline services. Having a problem with a bill and experiencing poor customer service remain high, but our expectations for quality and reliability of internet services is increasing.

“Change and complexity in phone and internet products and services means our role remains a vital one – today and well into the future. We continue our commitment to delivering a best-practice complaint handling service for the telecommunications industry and consumers.”

Other complaint highlights for the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019 listed by the TIO include:

  • 112,895 complaints (85.3%) were from residential consumers.
  • 19,165 complaints (14.5%) were from small businesses.
  • The proportion of complaints from small businesses increased to 14.5%, up from 12.2% in 2017-18.
  • Service and equipment fees, and no action or delayed action by a provider were the top complaint issues for consumers across internet, mobile and multiple service types, followed by the quality and reliability of internet services, and difficulties establishing a connection with an internet service.
  • No action or delayed action by a provider was the top complaint issue for landline services followed by no working service at all.
  • 53 potential systemic issues were notified to providers, 33 systemic issues resulted in the provider agreeing to or making changes to its system, process or practice, and 18 matters were referred to the regulators for consideration.
  • 11,635 complaints were recorded in 2018-19 about changing providers or establishing a connection to the NBN. Complaints increased from 6.7 per 1,000 premises added in the first half of the year, to 8.6 in the second half of the year.
  • 23,362 complaints were recorded in 2018-19 about service quality on the NBN. Complaints increased from 2.1 per 1000 premises on the network in the first half of the year to 2.5 in the second half of the year.

The TIO also reported:

National complaints about internet, mobile, multiple services, landline and property

  • 43,164 complaints (32.6%) were recorded about internet services.
  • 40,103 complaints (30.3%) were recorded about mobile phone services.
  • 30,678 complaints (23.2%) were recorded about multiple services.
  • 17,267 complaints (13%) were recorded about landline phone services.
  • 1,175 complaints (0.9%) were recorded about property.

Top national complaint issues about internet, mobile, multiple services and landline

  • The top five complaint issues about internet services were no action or delayed action by a service provider (13,976) service and equipment fees (13,509), slow data speed (8,668), intermittent service/dropouts (7,915), and delay establishing a service (7,431).
  • The top five complaint issues about mobile services were service and equipment fees (12,905), no or delayed action by provider (11,675), resolution agreed but not met (4,263), misleading conduct when making a contract (3,656), and termination fees (2,975).
  • The top five complaint issues about multiple services were service and equipment fees (10,495), no or delayed action by provider (10,229), no phone or internet service (6,469), delay establishing a service (5,931), and intermittent service/dropouts (3,865).
  • The top five complaint issues about landline services were no or delayed action by provider (5,653), no phone or internet service (4,964), service and equipment fees (3,812), delay establishing a service (2,441), and number problem due to connection or transfer (1,559).

Small business complaints

  • Complaints from small businesses decreased 6.2% year on year to 19,165.
  • The proportion of complaints from small businesses increased to 14.5% up from 12.2% in 2017-18.
  • The main issues affecting small businesses were no action or delayed action by their provider to resolve their phone or internet issue, followed by service and equipment fees, and no phone and internet service at all.
  • The highest proportion of complaints from small businesses came from the Northern Territory (17%) followed by Western Australia (15.3%) and New South Wales (15%).

Complaints by state and territory (in alphabetical order)

  • The Australian Capital Territory accounted for 1.5% of all complaints. The total number of complaints from the ACT decreased 19.3% year on year to 1,989.
  • New South Wales accounted for 32.4% of all complaints and decreased 19.1% year on year to 42,868.
  • The Northern Territory accounted for 0.5%of all complaints and decreased year on year 33.2% to 696.
  • Queensland accounted for 19% of all complaints and decreased year on year 23.5% to 25,102.
  • South Australia accounted for 7.4% of all complaints and decreased year on year 22.4% to 9,828.
  • Tasmania accounted for 1.6% of all complaints and decreased year on year 30.7% to 2,068.
  • Victoria accounted for 28.7% of all complaints and decreased year on year 20.4% to 37,926.
  • Western Australia accounted for 9% of all complaints and decreased year on year 21.4% to 11,845.

Complaints about phone and internet providers

Ten phone and internet providers accounted for 92.7% of all complaints in 2018-19.

  • Telstra accounted for 50.2% of complaints and decreased year on year 19.5% to 66,402.
  • Optus Group accounted for 23.9% of complaints and decreased year on year 22.2% to 31,629.
  • Vodafone accounted for 5.15% of complaints and decreased year on year 30.45 to 6,784.
  • iiNet accounted for 4.3% of complaints and decreased year on year 26.6% to 5,663.
  • TPG accounted for 4.1% of complaints and decreased year on year 13.9% to 5,380.
  • Dodo accounted for 1.4% of complaints and decreased year on year 40.3% to 1,863.
  • Southern Phone accounted for 1% of complaints and decreased year on year 8% to 1,366.
  • MyRepublic accounted for 1% of complaints and decreased year on year 29.2% to 1,286.
  • Primus Telecommunications accounted for 1% of complaints and decreased year on year 33.9% to 1,267.
  • M2 Commander accounted for 0.8% of complaints and decreased year on year 30% to 1,096.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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