Internet problems persist for telco consumers

09 May 2023

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s (TIO) Quarter Three Complaints Report shows residential consumers and small businesses made 17,777 complaints about phone and internet services between January and March this year.

While complaints have remained steady compared to the previous quarter, the results show an almost 19 percent decrease against the same period last year.

Problems with internet services increased by 8.5 percent compared to the previous quarter. Internet complaints about having trouble getting connected to the NBN network, and experiencing problems with service quality once connected, increased 13 percent.

Complaints about having intermittent service or drop-outs increased 32 percent across NBN and non-NBN networks compared to the previous quarter. There were also significant increases in complaints about failure to cancel a service, slow data speeds, and billing for services and devices.

With current cost-of-living pressures facing consumers, the TIO has highlighted trends in complaints about financial hardship and will continue to do so in future quarterly reports. During this period, 433 complaints were made by consumers experiencing financial hardship, mostly about problems with a mobile service.

Other key points include:

  • Mobile continued to be the most complained about service type, making up 47.5 percent of all complaints.
  • Mobile complaints about misleading conduct increased 12.8 percent compared to the previous quarter, and 34.9 percent compared to the previous year.
  • Landline complaints increased 7 percent.
  • Complaints about Optus decreased 17 percent. Optus, iiNet, and TPG were the only telcos to see decreases in complaints. All other top ten telcos increased.
  • Complaints about Southern Phone increased 83.1 percent, from a low volume of complaints.

Ombudsman Cynthia Gebert said, “This quarter we saw a dramatic increase in consumers complaining to us about problems with the quality of their internet service. Substantial increases were recorded in complaints about getting connected to an NBN service, problems with a bill, and service quality issues such as drop-outs and slow data speeds.

“While complaints about mobile services decreased this quarter, these problems continue to make up just under half the complaints we receive. Given the importance of mobile phones to Australian consumers, it is concerning this proportion continues to remain high.

“I encourage the telcos to keep working on their customer service to ensure that these problems get resolved before people need help from my office.”

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