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Quarterly report - Quarter 1 FY2021

Third consecutive quarter of growth in overall complaints, Q1 small business complaints spike 28%

Between July and September 2020, residential consumers and small businesses made 34,476 complaints about phone and internet services This is an increase of 3.4 percent on the previous quarter, and the third consecutive quarter of incremental growth in overall complaints.



The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s Quarter 1 (Q1) 2020-21 Complaints Report shows complaints from small businesses increased 28 per cent in the first quarter to 5,527. In this quarter complaints from small businesses were 16 per cent of total complaints - the highest proportion and volume for small business complaints in the last five quarters.

Although complaints from small businesses increased across all service types (phone, internet and landline), the highest volume and proportion increases for the quarter were recorded against ‘multiple services’. This is where a complaint relates to more than one service type with the same provider.

The problems experienced by small businesses did not change from the fourth quarter but increases were recorded against all top ten issues. Complaints about being unable to contact a provider and business loss compensation increased 47 per cent and 42 per cent respectively.

Other insights from the first quarter showed internet services were still the most complained about service type, but the volume of internet complaints decreased in the quarter overall. In the Top 10 issues the only change from the previous quarter was complaints about problems with add-on features.  

Complaints about the top ten providers decreased in volume and proportion compared to the previous quarter, with the exception of Telstra, Boost and Southern Phone. Telstra had an increase of just over 27 per cent compared to the previous quarter.

Commenting on the Q1 results, Ombudsman Judi Jones said the sharp increase in complaints from small businesses is concerning, particularly as the nation attempts to revive the economy while navigating the impacts of the pandemic.

“I have said before the relationship between small businesses and their providers is vital to the businesses’ ongoing success. Any issues between a small business and their provider in the delivery of a service can have significant consequences and I urge the parties to work together on solutions.

“For the third quarter in a row we are seeing incremental growth in overall complaints. We are continuing to share the insights learned from our data our with the telcos to improve the consumer experience.”


Notes to editors 

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, after consultation with the Board, has amended the Complaint Handling Procedures (clause 3.3) allowing these changes to Referral response times during a disaster. 

The updated Complaint Handling Procedures are located on our website

Media enquiries 

For all media enquiries please contact Sarah Carnovale on 0437 548 540 or 

About the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman 

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman provides a free and independent dispute resolution service for residential consumers and small businesses who have an unresolved complaint about their phone or internet service. 

Consumers and small businesses should contact or 1800 062 058. 

The Telecommunications Industry Sector 

Government and the regulators set policy and regulations for the telecommunications sector. 

The Telecommunications industry regulators are the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Media enquiries to (02) 9334 7719 or and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC): Media enquiries to 1300 138 917 or After hours 0408 995 408. 

Peak Bodies 

Communications Alliance is the peak body for Australian communications industry: Media enquiries to Sefiani Communications or 0431 478 558. 

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) is Australia’s peak communications consumer organisation representing individuals, small businesses and not-for-profit groups as consumers of communications products and services, Media enquiries to 0409 966 931 or 02 9288 4000. 

Acknowledgement of Country 

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects  
to Elders past, present and emerging, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples from all nations of this land.