​TIO receives 124,000 complaints about telco services

Telco industry has a long way to go says Acting Ombudsman

Consumers made over 124,000 complaints about mobile, Internet and landline services during 2014-15, a new Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman report has revealed.

While the total number of complaints about telcos dropped from 138,946 in 2013-14, Acting Ombudsman Diane Carmody said there was still room for improvement in the telecommunications industry.

“More than 124,000 is a huge number of complaints and shows the telecommunications industry has a long way to go,” she said.

There was a 21 per cent decrease in the number of complaints about mobiles with improvements in problem areas including coverage and excess data charges. This follows telco investment in infrastructure and monitoring tools for consumers required by the industry’s Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code.

Mobile coverage complaints fell by 49.2 per cent.

“Improved coverage through telco investment in mobile towers, and usage and spending alerts
that help consumers control data and phone usage have contributed to this improvement,”
said Carmody.

While mobile phone complaints went down, there had been slight increases in landline and Internet complaints, the report found. 27.8 per cent of new complaints were about landlines while 25.6 per cent of complaints were about Internet problems such as connection issues.

“The landline issues that we are most closely watching are connection delays and faults, which have been rising for three years,” she said.

Complaints about third party charges on mobile bills rose 29.9 per cent.

There were 6715 complaints about the national broadband network. According to the report this highlights a communication breakdown between retailers, the wholesaler, nbn and consumers.

Of all NBN-related new complaints, 95.4 per cent were about 90 different retail service providers. The remaining 4.6 per cent were about the network wholesaler, nbn.

The most common NBN issues that consumers reported were delays in connections to the network and installation appointments that technicians have not attended.

“While the numbers of NBN-related complaints are relatively small at 6715, they have a big impact on consumers,” she said. “It can be extremely frustrating and inconvenient for consumers when technicians do not show up for scheduled appointments, particularly if the consumer has taken a day off work.”

“The challenge for nbn and retail service providers is to ensure the roll out of this highly anticipated technology is a positive experience for consumers.”

In December 2014, the TIO said it received 30,539 new complaints about telcos in the period from July to September 2014.