Q3 complaints increase in bushfire, flood season
Residential consumers and small businesses made 32,441 complaints about phone and internet services to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman between January to March 2020. While the comparison against the same period in 2019 shows a decline of almost 14 per cent, complaints about phone and internet services increased 13 per cent against the second quarter of 2020. This data is highlighted in the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s Quarter 3 (Q3) Complaints report published today (Wednesday 20 May 2020).
Complaints about not having a working phone or internet service increased almost 70 per cent from the previous quarter. While complaints about this issue were also high in Q3 2019, the increase in Q3 2020 coincided with extreme weather events that appeared to have a greater impact on NSW consumers in February and March.
Complaints about internet services increased 22 per cent from the previous quarter. When compared to Q3 2019, internet service complaints decreased by 18 per cent.
There was an increase in complaints from residential consumers of almost 14 per cent compared to the previous quarter. For residential consumers, problems with missed appointments replaced complaints about termination fees in the top ten issues.
Complaints from small businesses increased 8 per cent against the previous quarter. The top ten issues impacting small businesses remain unchanged from Q2. Poor customer service, issues with a bill, and faults and connections problems continued to be the most complained about issues by small businesses.
Ombudsman Judi Jones said, “The resilience of Australia’s phone and internet services has been tested in 2020. During the devastation of the bushfires, remaining connected to family, friends and community was critical to our safety. While the COVID-19 pandemic did not impact Australia until the end of the quarter, it has also highlighted our need for reliable phone and internet services. Telco issues we could accept before the pandemic have shifted significantly. Confined to our homes, we are working, running our small businesses, educating children, and keeping in touch with family and friends. Our lives are happening in the digital space and it is our phone and internet services that allow this to happen.
“During this time, the cooperation between government, the phone and internet providers, NBN Co and the regulators has been extraordinary, and we continue our collaboration to address the issues we’re seeing in our data. I urge all parties to maintain their focus on keeping people and small businesses connected, and ensuring they have access to financial hardship programs.
“My message to residential consumers and small businesses remains the same. If you are experiencing problems with your phone or internet, or you’re having trouble paying a bill, contact your provider as early as possible to try to fix the problem. If your problem does not get fixed contact us, we’re here to help.”
Complaint highlights for Q3 2020
- 32,441 complaints were received from residential consumers and small businesses
- Down 13.7 per cent against the same period in 2019.
- Up 13 per cent against the previous quarter.
- In the top 10 issues in complaints, “No phone or internet service” increased almost 70 per cent against the previous quarter.
- Internet was the most complained about service type for quarter 3.
- "Missed appointment" appeared in the top 10 issues for residential consumers, replacing "Termination fees".
- Faults and connection complaints made up 50.3 per cent of complaints for the period, compared to 47.1 per cent in Q2. Internet, landline, and multiple services delivered over non-NBN networks saw greater growth in faults and connections issues.
- “Number problem due to a connection, disconnection or transfer” dropped out of top 10 issues that came back unresolved after referral to the provider, replaced by “Bill unclear or not received”.
- Boost Tel dropped out of the top 10 providers replaced by Primus Telecom.
Notes to editors
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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.
Residential consumers and small businesses should contact 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) acma.gov.au Media enquiries to (02) 9334 7719 or firstname.lastname@example.org and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC): accc.gov.au. Media enquiries to 1300 138 917 or email@example.com. After hours 0408 995 408.
Communications Alliance is the peak body for Australian communications industry: commsalliance.com.au. Media enquiries to Sefiani Communications sefiani.com.au or 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, accan.org.au Media enquiries to 0409 966 931 or 02 9288 4000.
Acknowledgement of Country
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects
to Elders past, present and emerging, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples from all nations of this land.