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Annual Report 2019-20

Complaints about phone and internet services decreased 4 per cent in the last financial year ending 30 June 2020. In this period, residential consumers and small businesses made 127,151 complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, highlighted in the Annual Report 2019-20 published today.

Fast facts: Complaints data 1 Jul 19 to 30 Jun 20


127,151 complaints were received in the last financial year, a decrease of 4 per cent.

Residential consumers

108,673 complaints (85.5 per cent) were from residential consumers, a volume decrease of 3.7 per cent against the previous year.Most complaints received from residential consumers had to do with their internet and mobile phone services. Complaints about internet services made up the highest proportion of residential complaints at 36.3 per cent. This is the highest proportion of internet complaints in the past three years for residential consumers. Read more on pgs 48 and 72.

Small businesses

18,478 complaints (14.5 per cent) were from small businesses, a 5.2 per cent volume decrease on the previous year. Complaints about landline services accounted for 28.7 per cent of small business complaints, and problems with phone numbers due to connection, disconnection or transfer of a service increased 12.8 per cent compared to last financial year. Read more on pgs 51 and 73.

Complaints about service types

Complaints about internet services decreased 0.7 per cent and remained the dominant service type accounting for 33.7 per cent of all complaints. Internet complaints were also the most dominant in the final quarter of the year, accounting for 38.6 per cent of complaints as users became more dependent on these connections during the pandemic. Read more on pg 40.

Complaint issues in phone and internet services

Service and equipment fees and no or delayed action were the two most prominent issues raised by consumers in all service types. However, these issues were often linked to an underlying problem that had not been resolved by the provider.

In internet services, there was a sharp rise in complaints about being unable to contact an internet provider. Consumers made over 2,000 complaints about this problem, an almost 1,500 per cent increase on the previous financial year, largely due to the shutdown of overseas call centres during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more on pg 42.

In mobile services, the highest percentage increase was recorded against delays establishing a service (difficulties switching providers), up 23.3 per cent on last financial year. This issue replaced complaints about excess data charges in the top 10 from 2018-19. Read more on pg 75.

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

49.2 per cent of all complaints had a connection, changing provider or service quality problem. Connection delays increased across internet and mobile services. This reflects challenges arising from the pandemic and a resolved systemic issue for one service provider.

Phone number problems, and complaints about partially restricted services continued to present issues for landline customers.

Having no working phone or internet service was an issue in approximately 14 per cent of complaints, although complaints about this issue fell by just under 10 per cent year-on-year. This was particularly a problem for small businesses with nearly 18 per cent of complaints about this issue. Read more on pg 45.

Complaints about service providers

Exetel appears in the Top 10 service providers by volume of complaints, replacing Primus Telecom from 2018-19. TPG recorded a 20.3 per cent increase in complaints to 6,471 for the year. Increases were also recorded against Telstra, iiNet, and M2 Commander.

The largest decreases were recorded against MyRepublic (down 40.2 per cent) and Optus Group (down 17.1 per cent). Decreases were also recorded against Vodafone, Dodo and Southern Phone Company. Read more on pgs 47 and 78.

Complaints by State

Aligned with the overall downward trend in complaint numbers this financial year, the number of complaints by state have all declined.

Double digit percentage decreases were recorded for ACT (down 15.3 per cent), WA (down 13.3 per cent), TAS (down 12 per cent) and SA (down 11 per cent).

Single digit percentage decreases were recorded against QLD (down 6.7 per cent), NT (down 3.6 per cent), VIC (down 0.7 per cent) and NSW (down 0.6 per cent). Read more on pg 79.

Fast facts: about the TIO for 1 Jul 19 to 30 Jun 20

  • 318,797 contacts were received - 174,572 online and 144,225 calls.
  • 32 systemic issues were identified and investigated.
  • Providers agreed to 35 systemic improvements.
  • 25 decisions were referred to the ACMA for enforcement.
  • 56 per cent of unresolved complaints were closed within 60 days, up from 47 per cent in 2018-19.
  • 583 people attended our eight newly developed educational webinars.
  • We made 34 submissions on policy consultations.
  • We published six reports including our new quarterly reports.
  • We formalised our commitment to our REFLECT Reconciliation Action Plan.
  • Our most recent staff survey found 85 per cent of our people recommend the TIO as a great place to work.