Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman records 21 per cent increase in complaints

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Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman records 21 per cent increase in complaints

Australians are getting angrier at their telco providers, with one company drawing an especially large number of complaints.

Australian telcos angered 22,000 customers enough to make them file complaints with a watchdog over bad service and poor connections.

The complaints from residents received by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman from January through March this year represented a 21 per cent increase on the previous quarter.

They also bucked a two-year trend of declining complaints.

Most gripes had to do with poor customer service and problems with billing.

Another category of common complaint had to do with poor coverage, including dropped calls and choppy internet connections.

“Consumers need to be able to rely on their phone and internet services. They are essential for work, schooling, running a business and keeping in touch with friends and family,” Ombudsman Cynthia Gebert said.

“When problems happen, the telcos need to work with consumers to identify and repair the problem.

“If you have tried to fix your phone or internet problem with your telco and you can’t work it out together, make a complaint with us – we’re free and here to help.”

Mobile services drew the most complaints, more than 8500, while internet service complaints rose the most, by 31 per cent, compared with the previous quarter.

Complaints from business customers also rose, by 12 per cent.

Telco giant Telstra 11,237 complaints, more than any competitor.

But a company spokesman said complaints against Telstra were declining in the long term.

While the number of complaints sector-wide grew (in the most recent quarter), complaints about Telstra are continuing to decrease and are now the lowest in nearly a decade,” the spokesman said.

“Part of our strategy has been about making our products and processes easier and simpler for our customers, and providing an exceptional customer experience you can count is a key pillar of our new strategy.”

“We’re encouraged by these latest figures and remain focused on our customers and improving the way we serve them.”

Complaints declined for just one company, Dodo.

“Over the past two years, it has been pleasing to see improved industry practices reflected in a steady decrease in our complaints,“ said Ms Gebert, who began in the role as ombudsman earlier this month.

“This quarter’s increase in complaints is a reminder that telcos need to focus on working with consumers to resolve complaints before they escalate to us.”

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