The latest ombudsman’s report reveals some bad news about our telecommunications services.
Complaints about landline phones, mobile phones and internet services all increased compared with the previous year, according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman's 2016-17 report.
In fact, the total number of complaints was the highest since 2012-13.
Landline complaints were up 30.1 percent, mobiles by 27.5 percent, and internet by a whopping 64.8 percent. The larger increases for landline and internet services seem to be related to the NBN rollout.
A total of 158,016 complaints were received, and 27,195 of them were NBN-related, which was an increase of 159.3 percent.
The most common issues were internet connection delays, fully unusable internet services, fully unusable landline services, new landline connection delays, and slow internet speeds.
While only 11.9 percent of total complaints came from small businesses, their number rose from 31.3 percent year-on-year to 18,789. This was even higher than those recorded in 2012-13.
Specifically, 46.9 percent of small business complaints concerned landlines, 30 percent internet, and 23.1 percent mobiles. The three most common issues were customer service, faults, and billing and payments.
This increase was driven largely by internet and landline service complaints, the TIO explained, and most commonly concerned customer service, billing and payments, faults and complaint handling.
Internet complaints now higher than for mobiles
“The picture the complaints show is we are frustrated when we cannot rely on technology to stay connected, to be informed, and to do business. Sharing high quality videos immediately, holding an online meeting or watching Netflix on the way home, is now the norm and part of our daily routine,” said Ombudsman Judi Jones.
“For the first time, complaints about internet services are now higher than complaints about mobile phones. Residential consumers and small businesses still have too many complaints about their customer service, a bill or faults. Complaints about services delivered over the national broadband network more than doubled, and while this is somewhat to be expected given the accelerating rollout, the increase is a cause for concern. The national broadband network project is complex, and it is important all parties involved work together to ensure a great consumer experience.”
Which providers got the most complaints
As to the 'offenders', 90.9 percent of all complaints to the TIO concerned ten providers. Unsurprisingly given their market position, the top three were Telstra (up 43.5 percent), Optus (up 31.2 percent) and Vodafone (up 37.5 percent).
They were followed by iiNet (up 79 percent), TPG (up 44.9 percent) and Dodo (up 1.1 percent).
The remaining four were Southern Phone (up a whopping 266.7%), Primus (up 32.1 percent), M2 Commander (up 25.3 percent) and Virgin Mobile (with a creditable 11.6 percent decrease in complaints).
Jones noted that 90.8 percent of all complaints were settled by the customer and provider working together. This seems to reinforce the idea that if you're having a problem with a telecommunications provider, the way to make the provider take you seriously is to lodge a complaint with the TIO as soon as you legitimately can.