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Report highlights increase in complaints about landline, mobile and internet services

17 April 2018

Australian residential consumers and small businesses made 84,914 complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman in the last six months of 2017 (1 July 2017 to 31 December 2017). In this period, complaints about landline, mobile and internet services, increased by 28.7 per cent compared to the same six month period in 2016.

Publishing the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s Six Monthly Update today (Tuesday 17 April, 2018), Ombudsman Judi Jones said “The telecommunications industry in Australia continues to experience significant change. An increasing range of products and services are being offered to consumers, expectations for the quality of phone and internet services are high, and the rollout of the National Broadband Network is changing the way we use telecommunications services.

“However, consumers still seem to be facing the same problems, particularly with their bills and the customer service they receive. Confidence in services being updated or transferred reliably, faulty equipment, and poor service quality were also recorded as key issues. Additionally, the wider issues relating to phone or internet problems such as debt management are concerning.”

Jones added, “Complaints about services delivered over the National Broadband Network continued to increase compared to the same six month period in 2016. This indicates the consumer experience is still not meeting expectations for all. Recent changes to regulation and an increase in our powers to resolve complaints are positive steps that will help improve the consumer experience.”

Highlights for the period 1 July 2017 to 31 December 2017 include:

· 84,914 total complaints were received

· 74,729 complaints (88 per cent) were from residential consumers

· 9,947 complaints (11.7 per cent) were from small businesses

Landline, mobile, internet, multiple services and property

Complaints for the period increased 28.7 per cent compared to the same six month period in 2016.

· 9,447 complaints (11.1 per cent) were recorded about landline phone services

· 24,923 complaints (29.4 per cent) were recorded about mobile phone services

· 23,785 complaints (28 per cent) were recorded about internet services

· 26,112 complaints (30.8 per cent) were recorded about multiple services*

· 647 complaints (0.8 per cent) were recorded about property*

· Charges and fees, unsatisfactory response from the provider (provider response), and poor service quality were the most common issues

Small Businesses  

Between 1 July and 31 December 2017 complaints from small businesses increased 15.6 per cent to 9,947 compared to the same period in 2016.

· Complaints from Small Businesses accounted for 11.7 per cent of total complaints for the period

· 2,178 complaints (21.9 per cent) were recorded about landline phone services

· 2,074 complaints (20.9 per cent) were recorded about mobile phone services

· 1,716 complaints (17.3 per cent) were recorded about internet services

· 3,937 complaints (39.6 per cent) were recorded about multiple services*

· 42 complaints (0.4 per cent) were recorded about property

·       The main issues affecting small businesses were charges and fees, unsatisfactory response from the provider (provider response), and no service.

Complaints by State

All states and territories in Australia saw a growth in complaints in the last six months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.

Queensland recorded the highest growth in complaints, an increase of 39.3 per cent, followed by Western Australia with 36.5 per cent.

Complaints by state (in alphabetical order) are as follows:

· Australian Capital Territory made 1,184 complaints, an increase of 11 per cent

· New South Wales made 26,914 complaints, an increase of 27.9 per cent

· Northern Territory made 504 complaints, an increase of 20 per cent

· Queensland made 16,418 complaints, an increase of 39.3 per cent

· South Australia made 6,552 complaints, an increase of 22.7 per cent

· Tasmania made 1,614 complaints, an increase of 33.1 per cent

· Victoria made 23,954 complaints, an increase of 30.5 per cent

· Western Australia made 7,381 complaints, an increase of 36.5 per cent

· The main issues affecting Australian states and territories were charges and fees, unsatisfactory response from the provider (provider response), and poor service quality

Services delivered over the National Broadband Network

Complaints about services delivered over the National Broadband Network increased 203.9 per cent to 22,827 on the same period in 2016.

· 14,055 complaints were recorded about service quality

· 8,757 complaints were recorded about delays in establishing a connection

·       The main issues affecting residential consumers and small businesses were unsatisfactory response from the provider (provider response), poor service quality, and connecting a service (connection/changing provider)

NOTES TO EDITORS

*From 1 July 2017, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman changed the recording of complaints. There are now five complaint service categories: landline phone services, mobile phone services, internet services, multiple services (where the consumer is complaining about more than one phone or internet issue), or a complaint about damage or access to property. The changes mean data will more accurately reflect the description of complaints given by residential consumers and small businesses.  The changes also make it easier to see the issues facing the telecommunication industry, helping providers improve the delivery of phone and internet services. Trend analysis will build over time from the start of this reporting period.

For a copy of the report or an interview contact Sarah Carnovale 0437 548 540 mediaenquiries@tio.com.au

· The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman is a free and independent dispute resolution and complaint handling service for residential consumers and small businesses who have an unresolved complaint about their phone or internet service in Australia. www.tio.com.au 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) http://www.acma.gov.au Media enquiries to  02 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or media@acma.gov.au The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) https://www.accc.gov.au Media enquiries to 1300 138 917, media@accc.gov.au After hours 0408 995 408.

· Communications Alliance is the peak body for Australian communications industry http://www.commsalliance.com.au Media enquiries to Sefiani Communications, (www.sefiani.com.au) 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. http://accan.org.au/index.php Media enquiries to 0409 966 931 or 02 9288 4000.

Supporting phone and internet providers

Supporting phone and internet providers

Peter changed his business model to offer phone and voice data services, and needed to join the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman as a member.

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