Consumers made 31,297 new complaints to the TIO in the January-March 2016 quarter. This was a 32.8 per cent increase in complaints from the previous quarter, but a 5.6 per cent decrease from the same time last year.
Although January-March is traditionally the TIO's busiest quarter, we saw a sharper than usual increase from the October-December 2015 quarter. The increase for the same period last year was 12 per cent.
At a glance
Complaints by service type
The proportion of new complaints about internet and landline services increased from the same time last year. Mobile service complaints decreased.
We received 10,985 new complaints about internet services in January-March 2016. The proportion of internet complaints has grown to 35 per cent, from 26 per cent at the same time last year.
Top internet complaint issues
Slow data speeds
In 6.9% of all new complaints
In 3.9% of all new complaints
In 6.8% of all new complaints
In 5.4% of all new complaints
In 6.6% of all new complaints
In 4.2% of all new complaints
More consumers contacted the Ombudsman about slow data speeds, unusable internet services and connection problems than about any other issue in all our new complaints during the quarter.
When a person calls us with a complaint, we record the problems they report as issues. Each complaint can have more than one issue.
Up to a quarter of consumers who reported unusable services and connection delays told us that their provider had failed to keep promises to resolve their complaints.
These are some examples from complaints we conciliated:
"…a representative said it would take five to seven working days to connect the internet. Six weeks later nothing was done…"
"… I have raised this complaint several times since the beginning of this year with my provider. I am paying for a service for which I am getting half the promised speed and unreliable connection…"
"… our internet connection dropped out or ceased to exist regularly and we made multiple calls to tech support, had visits by technicians, replaced modems, paid excess data charges on our mobile phones or had to rely on our neighbours' kindness to use their wi-fi…"
Of the internet connection delay issues we recorded, 43 per cent (905) were from customers who were trying to connect a service on the National Broadband Network (NBN). Another 18 per cent of unusable internet reports (383) were from customers who are connected to the NBN. These complaints have increased at a time when the network wholesaler, nbn, advises the scale of the deployment has been rapidly increasing. nbn reported recently that the rollout of the network has gathered pace over the past 12 months, with more than 900,000 active premises at the end of March 2016.
We have recorded an increase in the number of complaints about internet services over the four years to 30 June 2015. This is in part a reflection of the high rate of growth in the number of internet services in operation during that period.
The proportion of landline complaints in January-March 2016 grew to 30 per cent from 28 per cent at the same time last year.
The issues in landline complaints were similar to those in internet services. Consumers reported:
- 1,725 issues of unusable landlines, or 1 in 5 landline complaints, and
- 1,605 issues of landline connection delays, or 1 in 6 landline complaints.
New complaints about landline services have increased 2 per cent over the three years to 30 June 2015, while services in operation have decreased 4 per cent in that time.
The rollout of the NBN has also had an impact on these complaint issues. A quarter of the issues we recorded about unusable landlines were from consumers connected to the NBN, and 40 per cent of the issues we recorded about connection delays were from consumers trying to connect a service on the NBN.
We received 11,064 complaints about mobile services in January-March 2016, 1,630 more complaints than in the previous quarter, but 4,032 fewer than at the same time last year. As a proportion of all new TIO complaints, those about mobile services dropped from 46 per cent in January-March 2015 to 35 per cent in January-March 2016.
One of the key mobile issues reported by consumers related to excess data charges, which represented 10.3 per cent of mobile complaints during January-March 2016. However, at the same time last year, excess data charge complaints comprised 13.9 per cent of all mobile complaints.
During the quarter, Telstra had several well-publicised network outages. These did not have a significant impact on TIO complaints.
The number of mobile fault issues recorded for Telstra was low. We received:
- mobile coverage: 956 issues (216 more than last quarter) – 347 were for Telstra
- drop outs: 199 issues (31 more than last quarter) – 83 were for Telstra, and
- network outages: 140 issues (77 more than last quarter) – 104 were for Telstra.
In context, the number of complaints about mobile services has decreased by 48 per cent over the past four years, while services in operation have increased 8.5 per cent in that period.