Wednesday, 18 October 2017 05:19

Telco complaints from consumers, SMBs still rife, NBN complaints soar Featured

By Peter Dinham

Residential consumer and small business complaints against telcos continue to plague the telecommunications industry and there’s no sign of the connection problems being reduced despite industry and regulator efforts to overcome the problems.

But while there’s been a rise in complaints about mobile phones, Internet users suffered even more problems and complaints about services delivered over the National Broadband Network more than doubled over 12 months.

In fact residential consumers and small businesses made 158,016 complaints about telco services to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman in the last financial year between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017.

And, the TIO reports in the same 12 months complaints about landline phones, mobile phones and Internet services increased by 41.1%.

The report reveals that complaints about landline phones, mobile phones and Internet services all increased and for the first time, internet services were the highest source of complaints – and 87.8% of complaints were from residential consumers, with.11.9% of complaints from small businesses.

The ombudsman, Judi Jones, has her own complaint and frustration and specifically expresses concern about the rise in NBN complaints.

“The picture the complaints show is we are frustrated when we cannot rely on technology to stay connected, to be informed, and to do business. Sharing high quality videos immediately, holding an online meeting or watching Netflix on the way home, is now the norm and part of our daily routine.”

“For the first time, complaints about Internet services are now higher than complaints about mobile phones. Residential consumers and small businesses still have too many complaints about their customer service, a bill or faults.

“Complaints about services delivered over the national broadband network more than doubled, and while this is somewhat to be expected given the accelerating rollout, the increase is a cause for concern. The national broadband network project is complex, and it is important all parties involved work together to ensure a great consumer experience.”

The TIO started recording and reporting complaints about services delivered over the NBN from financial year 2013/14 and in that period reported:

  • 27,195 complaints were recorded about services delivered over the NBN, a year-on-year increase of 159.3%.
  • 16,221 complaints were recorded about faults in services delivered over the NBN. This is 6.7 fault complaints per 1,000 premises activated.
  • 11,224 complaints were recorded about connection delays to services delivered over the national broadband network. This is 8.3 connection delay complaints per 1000 premises activated.

Delays to connections are the main cause for complaints, followed by Internet and landline faults for services delivered over the national broadband network.

Key aspects of the TIO report for all complaints in the 12 months to the end of June:

Landline phones, mobile phones and internet services

Landline phones, mobile phones and internet services complaints all increased in 2016/17. The number of complaints recorded in 2016/17 is the highest level since 2012/13.

  • 41,824 complaints were recorded about landline phones, a year-on-year increase of 30.1%.
  • 52,300 complaints were recorded about mobile phones, a year-on-year increase of 27.5%.
  • 63,892 complaints were recorded about internet services, a year-on-year increase of 64.8%.

Customer service, billing and payments, faults and complaint handling were the most common complaints about phone and internet services.

Small Business

In 2016/17 small business complaints increased 31.3% in 2016-17 to 18,789.

This increase was driven largely by internet and landline service complaints

The main issues affecting small businesses were customer service, faults, and billing and payments.

Complaints by state

In 2016/17, South Australia recorded the highest growth in complaints, an increase of 51%, followed by Western Australia with 49.1%.

Complaints by state (in alphabetical order) are as follows:

  • Australian Capital Territory made 2,612 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 42.3%.
  • New South Wales made 50,537 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 43.6%.
  • Northern Territory made 1,043 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 29.7%.
  • Queensland made 28,988 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 42.7%.
  • South Australia made 12,526 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 51%.
  • Tasmania made 2,964 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 38.4%.
  • Victoria made 43,565 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 41.1%.
  • Western Australia made 13,623 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 49.1%.

Phone and Internet providers

The top 10 service phone and Internet providers accounted for 90.9% of complaints in 2016/17:

  • Telstra received 76,650 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 43.5%.
  • Optus received 28,766 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 31.2%.
  • Vodafone received 10,684 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 37.5%.
  • iiNet received 10,170 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 79%.
  • TPG received 6995 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 44.9%.
  • Dodo received 3309 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 1.1%.
  • Southern Phone received 2068 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 266.7%
  • Primus received 1917 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 32.1%.
  • M2 Commander received 1704 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 25.3%.
  • Virgin Mobile received 1354 complaints, a year-on-year decrease of 11.6 %.

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