Annual Report 2018-19 | The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
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Annual Report 2018-19

Summary
Phone and internet complaints down, technical and small business issues more complex.

TIO Annual report snapshot

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Complaints about phone and internet services decreased 21.1 per cent in the last financial year (1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019). Residential consumers and small businesses made 132,387 complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, highlighted in the Annual Report 2018-19 published today (25 September 2019).

​​​​​However, complaints returning as unresolved - where the consumer and provider could not reach resolution - took longer to close. This year, 47 per cent of escalated complaints were closed within 60 days, compared to 2017-18 when this figure was 77 per cent.

Ombudsman Judi Jones said, "Complaints about phone and internet services in Australia have continued their downward trend, and this is good news for consumers and the telecommunications industry, but this is only one part of the story.

"The volume of complaints coming back to us unresolved shows an emerging picture of complexity in technical and small business issues. Some measures we have taken to address this are the formation of specialist teams to handle these escalated complaints, and working closely with the phone and internet providers to better understand the barriers to resolving these issues.

"For the first time we are reporting on the top five issues in internet, mobile and landline services. Having a problem with a bill and experiencing poor customer service remain high, but our expectations for quality and reliability of internet services is increasing.

"Change and complexity in phone and internet products and services means our role remains a vital one - today and well into the future. We continue our commitment to delivering a best­ practice complaint handling service for the telecommunications industry and consumers."

Complaint highlights for the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019 include:

  • 132,387 total complaints were received, a decrease of 21.1 per cent.
  • 112,895 complaints (85.3 per cent) were from residential consumers.
  • 19,165 complaints (14.5 per cent) were from small businesses.
  • The proportion of complaints from small businesses increased to 14.5 per cent, up from 12.2 per cent in 2017-18.
  • Complaints about internet services (43,164) replaced complaints about mobile services (40,103) as the most complained about service type compared to 2017-18.
  • Service and equipment fees, and no action or delayed action by a provider were the top complaint issues for consumers across internet, mobile and multiple service types, followed by the quality and reliability of internet services, and difficulties establishing a connection with an internet service.
  • No action or delayed action by a provider was the top complaint issue for landline services followed by no working service at all.
  • 53 potential systemic issues were notified to providers, 33 systemic issues resulted in the provider agreeing to or making changes to its system, process or practice, and 18 matters were referred to the regulators for consideration.
  • 11,635 complaints were recorded in 2018-19 about changing providers or establishing a connection to the NBN. Complaints increased from 6.7 per 1,000 premises added in the first half of the year, to 8.6 in the second half of the year.
  • 23,362 complaints were recorded in 2018-19 about service quality on the NBN. Complaints increased from 2.1 per 1000 premises on the network in the first half of the year to 2.5 in the second half of the year.

National complaints about internet, mobile, multiple services, landline and property

  • 43,164 complaints (32.6 per cent) were recorded about internet services.
  • 40,103 complaints (30.3 per cent) were recorded about mobile phone services.
  • 30,678 complaints (23.2 per cent) were recorded about multiple services.
  • 17,267 complaints (13 per cent) were recorded about landline phone services.
  • 1,175 complaints (0.9 per cent) were recorded about property.

Top national complaint issues about internet, mobile, multiple services and landline

  • The top five complaint issues about internet services were no action or delayed action by a service provider (13,976) service and equipment fees (13,509), slow data speed (8,668), intermittent service/dropouts (7,915), and delay establishing a service (7,431).
  • The top five complaint issues about mobile services were service and equipment fees (12,905), no or delayed action by provider (11,675), resolution agreed but not met (4,263), misleading conduct when making a contract (3,656), and termination fees (2,975).
  • The top five complaint issues about multiple services were service and equipment fees (10,495), no or delayed action by provider (10,229), no phone or internet service (6,469), delay establishing a service (5,931), and intermittent service/dropouts (3,865).
  • The top five complaint issues about landline services were no or delayed action by provider (5,653), no phone or internet service (4,964), service and equipment fees (3,812), delay establishing a service (2,441), and number problem due to connection or transfer (1,559).

Small business complaints

  • Complaints from small businesses decreased 6.2 per cent year on year to 19,165.
  • The proportion of complaints from small businesses increased to 14.5 per cent up from 12.2 per cent in 2017-18.
  • The main issues affecting small businesses were no action or delayed action by their provider to resolve their phone or internet issue, followed by service and equipment fees, and no phone and internet service at all.
  • The highest proportion of complaints from small businesses came from the Northern Territory (17 per cent) followed by Western Australia (15.3 per cent) and New South Wales (15 per cent).

Complaints by state and territory (in alphabetical order)

  • The Australian Capital Territory accounted for 1.5 per cent of all complaints. The total number of complaints from the ACT decreased 19.3 per cent year on year to 1,989.
  • New South Wales accounted for 32.4 per cent of all complaints and decreased 19.1 per cent year on year to 42,868.
  • The Northern Territory accounted for 0.5 per cent of all complaints and decreased year on year 33.2 per cent to 696.
  • Queensland accounted for 19 per cent of all complaints and decreased year on year 23.5 per cent to 25,102.
  • South Australia accounted for 7.4 per cent of all complaints and decreased year on year 22.4 per cent to 9,828.
  • Tasmania accounted for 1.6 per cent of all complaints and decreased year on year 30.7 per cent to 2,068.
  • Victoria accounted for 28.7 per cent of all complaints and decreased year on year 20.4 per cent to 37,926.
  • Western Australia accounted for 9 per cent of all complaints and decreased year on year 21.4 per cent to 11,845.

Complaints about phone and internet providers

Ten phone and internet providers accounted for 92.7 per cent of all complaints in 2018-19.

  • Telstra accounted for 50.2 per cent of complaints and decreased year on year 19.5 per cent to 66,402.
  • Optus Group accounted for 23.9 per cent of complaints and decreased year on year 22.2 per cent to 31,629.
  • Vodafone accounted for 5.1 per cent of complaints and decreased year on year 30.4 per cent to 6,784.
  • iiNet accounted for 4.3 per cent of complaints and decreased year on year 26.6 per cent to 5,663.
  • TPG accounted for 4.1 per cent of complaints and decreased year on year 13.9 per cent to 5,380.
  • Dodo accounted for 1.4 per cent of complaints and decreased year on year 40.3 per cent to 1,863.
  • Southern Phone accounted for 1 per cent of complaints and decreased year on year 8 per cent to 1,366.
  • MyRepublic accounted for 1 per cent of complaints and decreased year on year 29.2 per cent to 1,286.
  • Primus Telecommunications accounted for 1 per cent of complaints and decreased year on year 33.9 per cent to 1,267.
  • M2 Commander accounted for 0.8 per cent of complaints and decreased year on year 30 per cent to 1,096.

 

ENDS

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

For all media enquiries please contact Sarah Carnovale on 0437 548 540 or mediaenquiries@tio.com.au

About the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman provides a free and independent dispute resolution service for consumers and small businesses who have an unresolved complaint about their phone or internet service. Consumers and small businesses should contact www.tio.com.au or 1800 062 058.

The Telecommunications Industry 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 and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) https://www.accc.gov.au Media enquiries to 1300 138 917, media@accc.gov.au

Government and the regulators set policy and regulations for the telecommunications sector.

Communications Alliance is the peak body for Australian communications industry http://www.commsalliance.com.au Media enquiries to Sefiani Communications, (www.sefiani.com.au) 61 431 478 558.

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.

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.