Complaints from residential consumers and small businesses about internet, landline and mobile phones are the highest they have been in five years.
Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Judi Jones says it received 158,016 complaints last financial year.
“The top issues in our complaints are customer service, followed by billing and payments, and then faults, and that’s been consistent across the year so nothing new in that this year,” she told SBS World News.
For the first time complaints about internet services were higher than those about mobile phones. While complaints about landlines were still high.SBS
But for the first time complaints about internet services are higher than those about mobile phones.
“There is a lot of change in the industry at the moment. And whenever there is major change we tend to see more complaints, so a lot of structural change, 1,500 phone and internet providers, lots of new products and services being offered,” Ms Jones said. consumers and small businesses are increasingly reliant on technology to stay connected to be educated and run businesses,” says Ombudsman Judi Jones.
“Consumers and small businesses are increasingly reliant on technology to stay connected to be educated and run businesses.”
The Ombudsman received the most complaints about Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and iiNet with the biggest increase seen for regional telco Southern Phone.
This graphic shows the amount of complaints and the percentage rise in complaints of the featured telcos.SBS
In statements provided to SBS World News, Optus says it has a number of options for customers to have their complaints addressed.
While Vodafone attributed the rise to a range of general administrative matters and Telstra said a key driver was customers moving to the NBN. It has 52 per cent of the NBN market.
The Ombudsman says complaints about services delivered on the network rose nearly 160 per cent.
NBN corporate media executive manager Tony Brown blames the roll-out.
“For much of the last year we’ve been activating about 50,000 premises every single week and that is really what’s causing issues on the network, the sheer volume of activations coming on board,” Mr Brown said.If we look at the actual number of complaints to the TIO, they actually make up only one
“If we look at the actual number of complaints to the TIO, they actually make up only one per cent of total NBN activations.”
Mr Brown says the company is working on customer service.
“We are doing that, we are working with the retail service providers to improve the installation experience and make sure when the tech comes to your premises they activate your premises first time,” he said.
“Also when people are having issues on board the NBN network, we want to make sure we identify those issues and really end the blame game between NBN and the ISPs.”
Ms Jones says while all complaints made to it are resolved not all of them go the consumers’ way.
“First step is complain to the provider, talk to them and explain carefully what the issues are, and what they believe reasonable resolutions would be, and then work with the provider to resolve the issue,” she said.
“If that doesn’t result in a satisfactory resolution then certainly give my office a call or jump online”
Statements to SBS World News
“The data shows a key driver in the increase in industry TIO complaints is customers moving to the NBN. We are currently moving around 20,000 customers to the NBN every week and this number will increase again as the NBN migration ramps up over the next two years.
We are absolutely focused on improving and simplifying our customer service and we’re working on a range of initiatives to deliver a better customer experience and reduce complaints overall. This includes working with NBN co and the industry to improve the migration and NBN experience for our customers.”
“Optus has a number of options for customers to have their complaints addressed – including Yes Crowd, live chat, online support, via phone as well as a through a dedicated Social Media Response Team.
Optus’ Social Media Response Team monitors customer concerns across Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat in real time, while Yes Crowd is a peer-to-peer forum for Optus customers, where individuals can ask questions about Optus products and services and have them answered by Yes Crowd members.
In all instances our aim is to provide customers with an efficient timely resolution to their concerns.”
“We are always striving to give our customers the best possible experience every time they use their device and interact with us.
Vodafone’s complaint rate is consistently well below that of the other major telcos, and we attribute this to our great network, commitment to serving our customers, and our simple, transparent products such as $5 roaming.
But there is always room for us to do better for our customers. It’s our aim to avoid the need for customers to make a complaint. But if customers do have a concern for any reason, our specialist team works through issues on a case-by-case basis to find a resolution as soon as possible.
We are disappointed in the annual increase in complaints, which is attributed to a range of general administrative matters, and we are listening to our customers. We’ll continue to work hard to support our customers and minimise the effort they go to resolve any concerns.”
“We are disappointed with the rise in the number of TIO complaints received which are related to the increased NBN rollout in the past year. We are constantly optimising our customer service ethos and in the most recent month (September 2017) our performance has improved with a -21% year on year drop in TIO complaints,” a media release read.
“iiNet continues to have a much lower number of internet related TIO complaints per broadband customer and a significantly lower NBN TIO complaints per NBN customer than our main competitors.
iiNet has topped the NBN satisfaction ratings in both Choice’s 2017 Internet service provider satisfaction survey and Canstar Blue’s 2017 annual review of NBN providers and this reflects iiNet’s ongoing commitment to customer service.”