New complaints to the TIO in July-September 2015 were at their lowest levels since July-September 2006. While July-September is typically the TIO’s quietest period, the seasonal decrease was accompanied by further reductions in complaints from mobile users.
Fewest new complaints since July-September 2006
We received 26,023 new complaints between July and September 2015, 14.8 per cent lower than the same period last year. The last time complaints to the TIO were this low was in July-September 2006, when 21,250 were recorded.
The key driver of the decrease was a continuing reduction in the number of new complaints about mobile services.
Mobile new complaints dropped from 15,034 in July-September 2014 to 10,340 in July-September 2015. Mobile service complaints made up 40 per cent of all new complaints in July-September 2015, compared to 49 per cent of all new complaints during the same period last year.
Landline new complaints decreased from 8,644 in in July-September 2014 to 7,229 this quarter. The proportion of landline complaints year on year (2014-2015) remained steady at 28 per cent.
Internet service complaints increased as a proportion of all TIO new complaints during July- September 2015. Internet complaints represented 32 per cent of new complaints in July-September 2015, compared to 23 per cent during the same period last year.
Complaint issue trends
The most common problems reported by consumers related to complaints about billing and payment issues. These issues were reported in 44.3 per cent of all new complaints we received in July-September 2015.
Billing and payments complaints can include disputes about:
- the total bill amount, for example, where the consumer is unable to understand or verify the charges on the bill
- recurring service charges such as monthly plan fees, where the consumer has not received a fully usable service
- excess data charges where, for example, the consumer did not receive timely notification that their data usage had gone over the plan limit, and
- termination fees when the consumer cancelled the service.
Slow data speed the top internet issue
The primary issue for internet users in July-September 2015 was slow data speeds. There were 1,663 issues recorded, 19.7 per cent of all internet new complaints. At the same time last year, slow data speed complaints accounted for 14.5 per cent of all internet new complaints.
Consumers with issues about slow data speeds told us that:
- their internet slowed down during peak hours
- they had been long-term customers and their internet had recently started to slow down, or
- they were not getting the speeds they were promised at the time they signed up to their service.
Complaints to the TIO indicate that the causes of slow data speed can vary. Reasons for slow data speeds can include the distance of the consumer’s house to the exchange, congestion during peak hours when more people try to connect to the internet, or the nature of the consumer’s broadband plan.
Some providers have told us that isolating the cause of slow data speed can take time because of the different factors that can affect data speed.
Landline connection delays and unusable service issues up
Connection delays for new landline services was the top issue reported by landline consumers with 1,038 new complaints, or 14.3 per cent of new landline complaints in July-September 2015. This compares to 10.3 per cent at the same time last year.
There were also 850 new complaints about fully unusable landline services. Proportionally, these complaints increased slightly, from 10.9 per cent of all new landline complaints in July-September 2014 to 11.7 per cent for the same period in 2015.
Mobile coverage and excess data charges complaints continue to drop
Mobile coverage complaints represented 7.5 per cent of new complaints about mobiles with 785 new complaints recorded in July-September 2015. During the same period in 2014, that proportion was 10.9 per cent.
Excess data charges complaints also decreased sharply from 2,524 in July-September 2014 to 1,254 in July-September 2015. This is the lowest number of excess data charges complaints since October-December 2009.
NBN-related new complaints
We recorded 2,262 new NBN-related complaints in July-September 2015, as the NBN rollout continued. This was 4.6 per cent more than the previous quarter.
According to the most recent rollout report from network wholesaler nbn, more than 610,000 premises were activated and 1.3 million premises were ready for connection at the end of September 2015.
In the 12 months to September 2015, the growth in NBN-related new complaints to the TIO (91.3 per cent) was lower than the rate of growth in the number of premises connected to the NBN (129 per cent).
Delays in connecting new NBN internet services represented 34.9 per cent of all internet connection delay issues reported during the July-September period. This increased from a proportion of 24.1 per cent at the same time last year.
The full statistics for July-September 2015 are available on our website.