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공개·회원 9명

Australia Is At A Three-year Low For TIO Complaints

Telco complaints have grown from 6 per 10,000 services in operation (SIO) to 7.5 complaints in just one quarter, according to the latest quarterly report from the Australian Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) and Communications Alliance.

Australia is at a three-year low for TIO complaints

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During the quarter to March 2019, Telstra had a complaints ratio of 8.2 per 10,000 SIO, up from 6.6 last quarter. Vodafone's rise in complaints was only marginal, growing from 3 to 3.1 complaints during the quarter.

Every quarter, the TIO in conjunction with Comms Alliance publishes a Complaints in Context report covering landline, mobile, and internet service complaints from residential and small business consumers.

"I am pleased to report that the number of complaints about telecommunications services in Australia appear to be turning the corner, with complaints trending down in the latter part of the year," Ombudsman Judi Jones said last year.

Mobile phone services made up 51,328 complaints; multiple services accounted for 49,875 complaints; internet services caused 46,703 complaints; landline phone services 18,736 complaints; and property 1,189 complaints.

For complaint types, customer service made up the most complaints, at 40% overall, followed by payment for a service at 36%; service delivery at 31%; establishing a service at 2%; and property at 1%.

While overall complaint volumes continued to decline for the third year running, escalated complaints remained high. Complaints from small businesses reached a three-year high and financial loss continued to be a problem for small businesses.

For all service types and consumers, poor customer service and problems with a bill were the most common complaints. Telcos being uncontactable remained a problem, particularly for small businesses. While this was primarily driven by COVID-19 impacts, consumers also complained about their struggle to navigate new or changed ways of contacting their telco.

Complaints from small businesses increased 6.6 per cent to 19,689. This is the highest number of complaints from small businesses in the last three years. Complaints about financial loss resulting from phone and internet problems grew by 13.3 per cent. Other increases were seen in complaints about failure to cancel a service and telcos being uncontactable. Complaints about a small business not having a working phone or internet service increased by 6.5 per cent. In a positive development for small businesses, fewer complaints were made about problems with phone number loss, intermittent service, and telcos not delivering on agreements.

Mobile phone services were the next most complained about service type at almost 33 per cent of complaints. Mobile complaints declined 1.5 per cent against the previous financial year. Complaints increased about problems contacting telcos, variations to contracts or plans, and failure to cancel a service. Complaints declined about misleading conduct when making a contract and delays establishing a service.

The proportion and volume of complaints about landline services reduced this year. Landline complaints decreased 18.3 per cent and accounted for almost 11 per cent of all complaints. Phone number problems due to connection, disconnection or transfer of a landline service dropped 26 per cent, while complaints about being unable to contact a telco and failure to cancel a service increased. Fault and connection problems continue to make up a significant proportion of complaints, at 47.1 per cent.

Fault and connection complaints declined for internet and landline services, however problems for mobile services increased by 8 per cent. The main driver of this increase was complaints about poor mobile coverage.

Complaints about Telstra increased by 11.3 per cent, accounting for 62.1 per cent of all complaints. Telstra recorded increases in complaints about internet, mobile and multiple phone services. Complaints also increased for Southern Phone Company, Aussie Broadband, Boost Tel and Foxtel. Significant declines were recorded for iiNet, TPG, Dodo, and Optus.

However, we saw an increase in the proportion of complaints returning to us as unresolved, which challenged our response times. This resulted in frustration for consumers wanting to have their phone or internet problems addressed quickly.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has welcomed an overall fall in complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), however, raised concerns that small businesses may be suffering as complaint levels from the sector reach a three year high.

Residential consumers and small businesses made 22,203 complaints between January and March 2022, an increase of 21 per cent compared to the previous quarter. The sharp increase is counter to a two-year trend of declining complaint numbers. While the current quarter complaint levels are lower than the same time last year, the increase is significant.

Complaints increased across all service types. The most complained about service type was mobile with just over 8,500 complaints, but the steepest increase was recorded in internet services with a 31 per cent increase compared to the previous quarter.

While poor customer service and problems with a bill continue to be the main problems reported by consumers, the quarter three results show complaints about poor mobile coverage increased almost 46 per cent, and complaints about inadequate fault testing increased almost 63 per cent from the previous quarter.

We had another challenging year managing the pandemic and we saw a small increase in the number of people hurt on the job. Our all-injury frequency rate (AIFR) in 2021 was 0.40 compared to 0.37 in 2020. While we continue to build our safety maturity, we are seeing the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on our operations, with fatigue across the organisation and, in some areas, tightness in the labour pool.In 2021, we launched our Health, Safety, Environment and Security (HSES) transformation programme, a three-year programme to transform the way we access and use our health, safety and environment data, improving our data collection processes and, ultimately, our strategic decision making.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 report, covering activity during the October-December quarter, 2021, showed that across all participating service providers, there were 4.1 complaints to the industry ombudsman for every 10,000 services in operation (SIOs).

The report details the complaints received by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) per 10,000 SIOs, creating an index that allows comparison of the customer service and complaint handing performance of providers, regardless of their size.

The industry-driven report is published by Communications Alliance, using complaints data provided by the TIO and SIO data supplied by participating providers. Per the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code, the participants were updated this quarter to reflect the top 10 complaint recipients in the most recent TIO Annual Report, in addition to voluntary participants.

The Telecommunications Act 1997 regulates the telecommunications industry - carriers and carriage service providers - and the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999 aims to promote the interests of consumers and achieve equitable service access across Australia. The Australian Communications Authority administers telecommunications legislation and regulations and monitors performance; the Australian Communications Industry Forum is the industry owned and managed self-regulation body, which develops industry codes and standards; and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman resolves complaints from residential and small business telecommunications consumers. Telstra is Australia's current 'default' Universal Service Provider, and is judged to have made substantial efforts to make services and equipment accessible to people with disabilities; but this outreach has largely been confined to the Standard Telephone Service and payphones, despite the huge growth and social importance of both mobile telephony and the Internet.

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