Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman: 2013 - 2014 Annual Report
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Case study

Peter's complaint

Peter contacted us about coming home to a bill 10 times greater than usual after a seven-day holiday overseas.

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Top trends

New complaints were at their lowest in five years, due to:

  • new regulations and an improved industry code
  • government reviews into the quality of telecommunications services in Australia, and
  • providers improving customer service and complaint handling as a business priority.

New complaints decreased 18%

We received 158,652 new complaints - an 18.1 per cent decrease from 2011-12.

More than half of those complaints - 91,331 - were from mobile users, a 25.6 per cent decrease. 

Landline complaints decreased 9.3 per cent to 33,940 and internet complaints increased 1.9 per cent to 31,431.

Top issues decrease

We recorded fewer issues in all categories except connections in 2012-13. The stand outs were:

  • Billing and payments issues decreased 16.7 per cent due to fewer complaints about disputed bills, internet usage charges and termination fees.
  • Customer service issues decreased 13.7 per cent due to fewer complaints about inadequate help, incorrect information and consumer requests that were not actioned.

As a proportion of new complaints:

  • 52.9 per cent had a customer service issue
  • 42.7 per cent had a billing and payment issue, and
  • 37.3 per cent had a faults issue.

A graph of the distribution of issues in new complaints can be seen in our dashboard.

Coverage is still the top issue for mobile complaints

Coverage was the main cause of mobile phone complaints despite a decrease compared to the previous year. This year, 25,770 consumers made a complaint about coverage - a 13.5 per cent decrease when compared to 2011-12. Coverage was an issue in 28.2 per cent of new complaints about mobile services.

Complaints about coverage include issues such as:

  • inability to make/receive calls or SMS, or to access the internet
  • few or no reception bars on a mobile
  • poor voice quality, and
  • calls ending unexpectedly.

There were a few areas where mobile complaints increased:

  • dropouts: 6,727 issues (3.8 per cent increase)
  • credit defaults without proper notification: 2,840 (13.3 per cent increase), and
  • slow data speeds: 1,623 (20.9 per cent increase).

Internet and landline faults

Extreme weather and natural disasters caused an increase in complaints about landline and internet faults and connections in 2012-13.

Internet faults increased 18.3 per cent to 18,963 issues. This included complaints about:

  • fully unusable services: 4,811 issues (24 per cent increase)
  • slow data speeds: 4,324 issues (16.5 per cent increase), and
  • dropouts: 3,330 issues (10.6 per cent increase).

Landline faults increased 19.1 per cent to 9,553. This included complaints about:

  • fully unusable services: 3,390 issues (23.9 per cent increase), and
  • recurring or intermittent faults: 1,340 issues (1.1 per cent increase).

Internet and landline connections

Weather events also caused many consumers to make complaints about delays in getting new landline and internet services connected. Consumers in large areas of the country experienced service disruptions mainly due to heavy rains. Meanwhile, consumers in non-affected areas experienced delays as technicians were redeployed to restore services in disaster zones.

There was an increase in complaints about:

  • delays in new internet connections: 4,710 issues (58 per cent increase), and
  • delays in new landline connections: 3,743 issues (40 per cent increase).

Case study

Peter's complaint

Peter contacted us about coming home to a bill 10 times greater than usual after a seven-day holiday overseas.

Read full case study