Complaints regarding phone and internet services in Australia increased significantly for the 2017-18 financial year says the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, however the final quarter saw the situation improving.
The TIO was established in 1993 is an independent dispute resolution service assisting Australians in resolving complaints with their phone company or internet service provider (ISP). Its services are free to both residential and small business consumers.
While it is fully funded by industry fees and charges, the TIO is not “owned by industry” and has the authority to decide on a resolution for a complaint, which the telecommunications company in question is then legally obliged to implement.
In its 2017-18 Annual Report released on Wednesday, the TIO notes complaints about phone and internet services jumped 6.2 per cent compared to 2016-17 to 167,831 in total, but the final quarter saw a reduction of 17.8 percent. Just ten phone companies and ISPs accounted for 93.4 per cent of all complaints in 2017/18.
“While there is still work to do, the downward trend is good news for Australian residential consumers and small businesses, and for the telecommunications sector,” said Ombudsman Judi Jones.
Many complaints over the year were in relation to the NBN – 14,589 about establishing a connection and 27,008 regarding service quality. However, the TIO notes between the beginning of this year and June 30, the number of complaints concerning the NBN per 1,000 premises reduced and in terms of service quality, significantly.
All told, 46,703 complaints (27.8 per cent) were recorded in relation to internet services (NBN and other).
Small Business Issues
Effective and reliable telecommunications are particularly important for businesses – poor quality internet and/or service can make or break companies in this increasingly competitive and online world. With regard to small businesses specifically, complaints increased 8.7 per cent in 2017/18 to 20,433 and made up 12.2 per cent of all complaints. There were 3,520 complaints in 2017-18 in relation to internet services specifically, representing 17.2% of the total.
The main issues impacting Australian small businesses were no action or delayed action by service providers in relation to phone or internet issues, followed by complaints about disputed charges.
The TIO says issues with telecommunications generally appear to be turning a corner given the more recent drop in complaints. Early this year, the TIO published the results of a survey indicating half of the thousands of respondents who participated had experienced phone or internet issues in the previous year.
The full Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s 2017-18 Annual Report can be downloaded here (PDF).