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. Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone Australia all clocked in with higher complaints ratios -- with Optus' rise being the highest, from 6.9 to 9 complaints per 10,000 SIO. 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. Pivotal and Amaysim both remained at just 0.5 complaints per 10,000 SIO.
Macquarie Telecom has welcomed news of rising consumer complaints statistics to the Ombudsman because it "reveals that the practices being used within the telecoms industry to date are not working". According to Macquarie Telecom group executive Luke Clifton, generic industry-wide regulations and consumer protection rules have not helped the banking industry, as shown by the Financial Services Royal Commission. Clifton said responsibility should instead be put back on how each company will take steps to lower consumer complaints, before a telco Royal Commission ends up being called. "Collective punishment through sweeping rule and regulation changes is not the answer now -- it has never worked in other industries," Clifton argued. "Forcing those who are the worst offenders to fix their own problems, and then holding their feet to the fire, is the only short-term solution, and potentially the beginning of solving the deep issues of the industry before it faces its own Royal Commission."
The Australian government has announced that its three-yearly review of regional telecommunications services will begin shortly, with Regional Communications Minister Senator Bridget McKenzie unveiling the new committee. "The review will examine regional telecommunications issues closely and examine how rural Australians can maximise the economic and social benefits that next-generation telecommunication services can provide," McKenzie, who was appointed as minister in December, said on Monday. "The Coalition government recognises the benefits that improved connectivity can bring to the families, communities, and businesses in our regions." The Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee pointed towards health and education as primary factors in considering whether regional telco access is suitable. "Though the government has already delivered great improvements in regional telecommunications, this cannot be the end of the story," committee member Johanna Plante said.
Virgin Mobile has blitzed an Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) report detailing disappointing customer service from Australia's telco providers; however, the telco stopped selling new services on June 15. According to ACCAN, of the telcos that customers can change over to, Vodafone provided the best service, followed by TPG/iiNet, Amaysim, Dodo/iPrimus, Skymesh, Telstra, Optus, Activ8me, and in last place Telstra-owned Belong. The survey of 1,347 customers conducted in late February to mid March said heading into a store will resolve an issue in eight days on average, almost twice as quick than complaining on social media, at 15.5 days. Using online chat results in an average 19.6-day resolution time, while phoning the telco takes over 23 days, and email resolution lasts a month, at a 30-day resolution time. "We found customers are spending days trying to sort out very straightforward things like changing a plan, updating contact details, and general account inquiries.
Consumer complaints about telecommunications services jumped by 58 percent to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) during 2016-17, the watchdog has revealed. During the year, it received 4,384 consumer complaints and enquiries, with the ACCC saying National Broadband Network (NBN) services "are emerging as key contributors to consumer dissatisfaction in the communications sector". According to the Competition and price changes in telecommunications services in Australia 2016-17 [PDF], published on Wednesday, the most common complaint was about misleading or deceptive conduct, with 1,831 complaints during the year -- more than double the previous year. Complaints regarding NBN services rose "significantly" during the year, the ACCC said, as did customer complaints across all major fixed and mobile service providers. "Issues regarding the migration and connection process as well as the quality and the performance of services over the NBN not meeting expectations are likely to be significant sources of these complaints," the ACCC said.