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TIO Annual report shows poor mobile coverage the most prominent issue for telco services

Summary
In good news for consumers, complaints about phone and internet services decreased 33.4 per cent in the last financial year ending 30 June 2022. During this period, residential consumers and small businesses made 79,534 complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, highlighted in the Annual Report 2021-22 published today.

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Problems about connection delays, failing to cancel a service, and billing issues have improved compared to last year with the number of complaints dropping by over 40 per cent. Complaints about a telco being uncontactable have decreased considerably, and this is no longer a major issue for residential consumers and small businesses. 

While overall complaint numbers declined significantly in the period, the proportion of mobile complaints increased to 39.7 per cent of all complaints, from 32.7 per cent in the previous year. This is the highest proportion of complaints about mobile services in over five years.

Mobile complaints about poor coverage have increased 6.3 per cent, and problems with partially restricted mobile services and mobile service drop outs have increased 12.4 per cent and 9.9 per cent respectively. 

Other key points include:

  • The TIO received 26,989 complaints about internet services, a decrease of 32.3 per cent compared to the previous year. 
  • Complaints about landline services and multiple services declined by over 45 per cent. There were 6,814 complaints about landline services in 2021-22. 
  • The number of complaints about phone and internet services from small businesses decreased 44.2 per cent.  
  • Mobile complaints that had a fault or connection issue increased by 2.4 per cent. Fault and connection complaints decreased for all other service types. 
  • Problems with poor mobile coverage appeared in the top ten issues in all states and territories except for the Australian Capital Territory. 

Some providers saw significant improvements in complaint numbers in 2021-22. The number of complaints about Telstra decreased 43.7 per cent this year, and complaints about Southern Phone dropped 47 per cent. Complaints increased for Aussie Broadband, Dodo and Medion (offering products and services under the brand "ALDImobile"). 

The number of escalated complaints decreased in this period by 36.8 per cent compared to last year, with most unresolved complaints remaining about customer service, billing problems and service drop-outs. Escalated complaints about problems with poor mobile coverage decreased at a much lower rate than other issues, at just 5.7 per cent – while most other issues decreased by over 30 per cent. 

Quote attributable to Ombudsman Cynthia Gebert:

“It’s really pleasing to see the significant decrease in complaints this year. Telcos have done well to work with consumers in resolving most problems before they come to us.

“Our data shows that in last financial year, as the pandemic cooled down, fewer premises were connected to the NBN network, and industry improvements were made, internet complaints decreased significantly. But we didn’t see the same improvements in mobile services, and the number of people who complained to us about poor mobile coverage increased.

“Mobile services are essential for things like banking, shopping, accessing health and government services, and connecting socially, and consumers tell us their lives are disrupted when they experience problems with their mobile service.

“While we’ve seen some great improvements, Australia’s telcos need to do more to resolve complaints about mobile services, including poor mobile coverage, before consumers come to my office for help.”

FY2021-22 complaints summary


Overall

79,534 complaints were received in the last financial year, a decrease of 33.4 per cent. This was the lowest volume of complaints received by the TIO in over three years and the largest percentage reduction in 10 years. 

  • 68,546 complaints were from residential consumers, a volume decrease of 31.3 per cent compared to the previous year 
  • Most complaints received from residential consumers were about their internet and mobile phone services 
  • All issues decreased in volume, except for poor mobile coverage. Problems with a bill and poor customer service recorded the largest volume of complaints. 

Complaints from small businesses

  • 10,988 complaints were from small businesses, a 44.2 per cent decrease compared to the previous year 
  • Small business complaints made up a proportion of 13.8 per cent of all complaints 
  • All top ten complaint issues for small businesses decreased, some by over 50 per cent. 

Complaints about internet, mobile, multiple and landline services

  • 31,556 complaints were about mobile services, compared to 26,989 complaints about internet services. 
  • Landline complaints decreased by 47.8 per cent compared to the previous year. There were 6,814 complaints about landline services. 
  • There were 13,673 complaints about multiple services, a 48.7 per cent decline compared to the previous year. 
  • There were 502 complaints about property. 

Complaint issues in phone and internet services

  • All issues decreased in volume, except for poor mobile coverage. Complaints about poor mobile coverage increased 6.1 per cent in overall complaints
  • Poor customer service and problems with a bill were the most common problems reported by consumers.
  • The number of complaints about connection delays, failing to cancel a service, and billing issues dropped in volume by over 40 per cent compared to last year. 
  • Complaints about a telco being uncontactable has decreased significantly, and is no longer in the top ten issues. 
  • Mobile complaints about having a partially restricted mobile service increased 12.4 per cent, and mobile complaints about service drop outs have increased 9.9 per cent 

Fault and connection complaints about services delivered over the NBN and other networks

  • Complaints involving fault and connection issues continue to make up almost half of our complaints, at 49.6 per cent. This was slightly higher compared to last year’s 47.1 per cent 
  • Fault and connection complaints reduced in volume across all service types except mobile services. Mobile complaints that had a fault or connection issue increased by 2.4 per cent. 
  • The main driver of the increase in faults and connection complaints about mobile services was the increase in complaints about poor mobile coverage. 
  • The proportion of fault and connection complaints about internet, landline and multiple services delivered over the NBN decreased from 62.7 per cent to 55.9 per cent. 

Complaints about service providers

  • There were 41,741 complaints about Telstra, a decrease of 43.7 per cent. Complaints about Southern Phone also dropped 47 per cent. 
  • Complaints increased for Aussie Broadband, Dodo and Medion (offering products and services under the brand "ALDImobile"). 

Complaints by state

  • The number of complaints in each state and territory decreased compared to financial year 2020-21. 
  • Problems with poor mobile coverage appeared in the top ten issues in all states and territories except for the Australian Capital Territory. 
  • Problems about poor mobile coverage was the only issue to increase in some states and territories. All other issues decreased. 

Ends

Notes to Editors

For all media enquiries please contact the Media Team on 0437 548 540 or mediaenquiries@tio.com.au

 

Biography: Cynthia Gebert, Ombudsman

www.tio.com.au/about-us/ombudsman

Cynthia Gebert commenced in the role of Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman in May 2022. Her nationally recognised leadership in dispute resolution and outstanding experience as a CEO underpin her commitment to improving outcomes for consumers and telcos.   
Cynthia is the Chair of the Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association (ANZOA) and is a 2011 alumni of Leadership Victoria’s highly respected Williamson Community Leadership Program. She is also a member of Chief Executive Women. 
Prior to joining the TIO, Cynthia held the position of Victoria’s Energy and Water Ombudsman for ten years. She has a Masters’ degree in Dispute Resolution from the University of Technology, Sydney and bachelor’s degrees in Law and Political Science from the University of Sydney.   
Cynthia is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is a Director of the Thriving Communities Partnership, Thriving Communities Foundation and Eltham College Limited.
 

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 tio.com.au or 1800 062 058.