Consumer complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) reached a six-year low in 2013-14, according to the TIO Complaints - the Year in Review 2013-14 report, released today.
The TIO received 138,946 new complaints about landline, mobile and internet services in the 2013-14 financial year, a 12.4 per cent decrease from the previous year.
This was driven by a 47.8 per cent decrease in new complaints about faults for mobile services. Mobile coverage issues decreased 54.6 per cent. Overall, customer service issues reduced by 20.7 per cent.
"This is the third year in a row of reduced complaints to the TIO," Ombudsman Simon Cohen said. "The causes of this decrease, such as reduced mobile coverage complaints and fewer customer service gripes, point to genuine service improvements in the telco industry. This is good news for consumers."
Against the trend of reduced new complaints, disputes about excess data charges were up by 27.2 per cent.
The TIO received 14,534 new complaints about excess data charges compared to 11,429 in 2012-13. Half of the complaints were for disputed amounts of $440 or more, with more than 60 complaints involving disputes greater than $10,000.
"The increase in complaints about excess data charges raises concerns about a mismatch between data included in consumers' plans and the data they actually use," Mr Cohen said. "The disputed charges are often very substantial, and consumers tell us they do not understand why their usage and charges are so high. We will monitor this issue closely over the coming year."
Increased consumer awareness, new plans and stronger regulations resulted in 35 per cent fewer international mobile roaming complaints in 2013-14, with disputed amounts for most complaints also reducing.
Complaints about Telstra, Optus and Vodafone made up 77.7 per cent of all TIO new complaints in 2013-14, with substantial reductions in new complaints about Optus (down 46.9 per cent) and Vodafone (down 18.7 per cent).
Nationally, the TIO received 5.9 complaints per 1,000 people (down from 6.8 complaints per 1,000 people in 2012-13). Per state, Victorians made the most new complaints, with 6.9 per 1,000 people. This was followed by South Australians with 6.4 new complaints per 1,000 and New South Wales residents with 6.1 new complaints per 1,000.
In major Australian cities the main complaints reported by consumers were for excess data charges, poor contract information, disputed bills and coverage.
In regional areas, the main complaint issues were disputed bills, poor contract information, disputed service charges and coverage.
In remote Australia, complaints were mostly about disputed bills, coverage, poor contract information and excess data charges.
Complaints by state and region
Total new complaints
New complaints per 1,000 residents
National rate of new complaints per 1,000 residents
New complaints per 1,000 consumers
Media queries: Mirjana Jovetic, TIO Communications Manager. 03 8600 8378