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Telco complaints drop to 8-year low

17 March 2015

Telecommunications complaints have hit an eight-year low, according to figures released by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) today. The TIO received 29,560 new complaints in October-December 2014, the quietest quarter since July-September 2007, when 26,632 new complaints were recorded.

The results continue a three-year decline in complaints. The last quarter saw a 21 per cent drop in billing complaints for mobile services (to 1,984). The TIO also recorded the lowest number of new complaints about mobile coverage problems since April-June 2010 (1,546).

"This welcome drop is due in part to fewer mobile users with billing problems coming to the TIO," Ombudsman Simon Cohen said. "Innovative new products that reduce unexpected high charges, stronger industry rules to inform consumers about their usage and a TIO that is active in identifying and acting on systemic issues are some of the reasons for this positive outcome."

Complaints in context

The TIO also reports on complaints as a proportion of services in operation across the telco industry, serving as a useful indicator of the industry's performance as a whole.

The latest figures show a 12.2 per cent decrease in the number of complaints received by the TIO for every 100,000 telco services in operation. In 2013-14, the figure was 275.5 compared to 313.6 in 2012-13.

During this time, the number of telco services in operation as a whole also decreased from 50.6 in 2012-13 to 50.4 million in 2013-14.

Service typesNew complaints/100k SIO 2013-14New complaints/100k SIO 2012-13Percentage change from 2012-13
Landline493.2475.43.7
Mobile237.1300-21
Internet249.5254.3-2.6
Total275.5313.6-12.2

Case study: a small business with a big bill

The importance of the Ombudsman's office was highlighted by a complaint of a small business owner, who was disputing charges that had not been billed on time, and who could not resolve the complaint with their service provider.

As a result of a TIO conciliation, the consumer agreed to pay $27,000 in valid charges and the provider agreed to waive $120,000 that had not been billed in more than 160 days, as required under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code.

Media queries: Luis Gonzalez, TIO Communications Officer - 03 8680 8587

Customer service

Case Study - Customer Service

A man contacted us because he had made a payment twice by mistake. Each time he called the service provider he had to explain his situation again as if it was the first time.

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