Phone and internet complaints decline this quarter, with emerging problems

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s (TIO) Quarter One Complaints Report shows between July and September 2022, residential consumers and small businesses made 16,310 complaints, a decrease of 8.6 per cent compared to the previous quarter, and a decrease of 23.9 per cent compared to the same period last year. Enquiries to the TIO increased 9.1 per cent compared to last quarter.

Mobile complaints continued to be the most complained about service type, making up a proportion of 47 per cent of all complaints. The number of complaints about internet, landline and multiple services decreased significantly.

Mobile complaints about receiving no or delayed action by a provider increased 19.9 per cent in this quarter, and complaints about misleading sales conduct increased 25.4 per cent.

The last week of quarter one saw the beginning of the impact of the Optus data breach on mobile consumers. Mobile complaints about the unauthorised disclosure of personal information were five times higher than the preceding quarter, which had low complaint numbers for this issue. Mobile complaints regarding termination fees also increased 28.5 per cent.

Other key points include:

  • Across all service types, complaints about receiving no or delayed action by a provider increased 6.8 per cent, and complaints about failing to cancel a service increased 2.6 per cent compared to last quarter.
  • The proportion of complaints about fault and connection problems dropped to 40.5 per cent of total complaints, compared to 47.9 per cent in the previous quarter.
  • Complaints from small businesses have decreased by 7.8 per cent this quarter.
  • Complaints about Optus and Southern Phone increased 27.6 per cent and 12.5 per cent compared to last quarter. All remaining providers in the top ten saw a decrease in complaints.
  • Complaints about Telstra decreased 20.7 per cent compared to last quarter, and 42.3 per cent compared to the same quarter last year.

As stated by Ombudsman Cynthia Gebert:

“It’s great to see overall complaints decline this quarter. There also continues to be some really good improvements from the industry, with many telcos recording decreases in complaint numbers.

“We’re starting to see the impact of the Optus data breach on our mobile complaint issues. Complaints about privacy breaches entered our top five complaint issues for mobile services for the first time ever. This is an evolving situation, and the issues related to the data breach will continue to emerge in following quarters.

“It’s really scary to have your personal information exposed. We’ve established a dedicated team to look at these complaints specifically, and we’re working closely with Optus and the relevant parties so that we can resolve complaints as efficiently and effectively as possible, during an already stressful time for consumers.

“The Optus data breach provides all telcos with an opportunity to review how they collect and store the personal information of consumers. These are essential services, and phone and internet consumers need to know their data is safe.”

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