Optus Breach Leads to Surge in Complaints

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s (TIO) Quarter Two Complaints Report shows a 9.9 per cent increase in the number of complaints received between October and December 2022. Residential consumers and small businesses made 17,903 complaints, with more than half of these about mobile services.

Complaints this quarter increased largely due to the impact of the Optus data breach. Complaints about the unauthorised disclosure of personal information jumped to the third most complained about problem during this quarter. Mobile complaints about non-financial loss such as stress and humiliation from a privacy breach increased significantly this quarter, along with problems about customer service, termination fees, and failing to cancel a mobile service.

The number of complaints about mobile services increased 19.1 per cent compared to the previous quarter. Complaints about internet services increased by 10.2 per cent, and landline complaints decreased 20.2 per cent.

Other key points include:

  • Complaints that relate to customer service failings, such as no or delayed action by a telco, continues to dominate consumer concerns.
  • Internet complaints about problems with an add on feature almost doubled, due to a known issue with one telco that has now been resolved.
  • Complaints about having no phone or internet service increased compared to the previous quarter.
  • Complaints about Optus increased 39.3 per cent, and complaints about iiNet increased 20.8 per cent compared to the previous quarter. Vodafone and TPG saw small increases, and all other top 10 telco complaint numbers decreased.
  • Fault and connection complaints have remained steady quarter-on-quarter.

As stated by Ombudsman Cynthia Gebert:

“We began to see the impact of the Optus data breach on our mobile complaint issues at the end of the previous quarter, but the complaints from this period of October to December really highlight the problems people are experiencing because of the breach.

“Privacy and the unauthorised disclosure of personal information are not the only issues for consumers. We’re also handling an increased number of complaints from Optus customers about disputed termination fees, customer service problems, and failing to cancel a mobile service.”

“We’re continuing to work closely with Optus to ensure consistent approaches are being taken to resolving complaints so that people can get a fair and reasonable outcome, and we have adapted how we work to handle the higher volume of complaints we received.

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