TIO complaint trends
New complaints by service type
Issues in new complaints
*Other includes: transfer, privacy, directories, land access, disability, phonecard and payphones.
Each complaint we receive can be about more than one issue, and most of our complaints will have a customer service or complaint handling issue that is secondary to the reason why a consumer contacted us. The substantive issue categories we recorded in new complaints in 2014-15 were:
- Billing and payments (in 45.6 per cent of new complaints)
- Faults (in 30.1 per cent of new complaints), and
- Contracts (in 23.8 per cent of new complaints).
Coverage, excess data and bill shock issues decrease
Complaints about mobile coverage decreased 49.2 per cent, from 11,709 issues in 2013-14 to 5,947 in 2014-15. These complaints are now 20 per cent of what they were four years ago (29,809).
Last financial year, an emerging issue was disputed excess data charges. These complaints have now reduced by 30.4 per cent to 10,036 issues.
Complaints about high bills incurred as a result of poor spend controls decreased 52.2 per cent to 5,327 and are 29.5 per cent of what they were four years ago (18,036).
Connections and faults problems increase
Against the backdrop of complaint decreases, we noticed an increase in some issues for fixed internet and landline services.
We recorded 5,839 issues about fully unusable internet services, an 18.4 per cent increase from the previous financial year. Complaints about fully unusable landline services increased 20.6 per cent to 4,977.
We also recorded 4,871 issues about delayed new internet connections, a 12.3 per cent increase from 2013-14. Complaints about delayed new landline connections increased 23.6 per cent to 4,248.
Mobile complaint issues
We received 57,983 new complaints about mobile services in 2014-15, 21.1 per cent fewer than in the previous financial year. The last time we received so few complaints about mobile services was 2007-08, before the advent of smart phones and the increased use of data on mobile devices. That year we recorded 49,654 new mobile complaints.
- excess data charges issues decreased 32.2 per cent to 8,454
- contract terms disputes decreased 9.2 per cent to 7,621
- disputed bill complaints decreased 22.1 per cent to 6,509, and
- coverage complaints decreased 49.2 per cent to 5,947.
Third party charges
New complaints about “third party charges” on consumer bills increased by 29.9 per cent in 2014-15 to 1,879. These occur when consumers are charged for services they have not requested.
Consumers usually find “third party charges” on their bills after making in-app purchases, or being signed up for services such as competitions or games on websites. In some cases, when they try to get refunds or unsubscribe, their provider might ask them to contact the content provider. Consumers come to us after being unable to contact these providers, which in some cases are overseas.
We have been in contact with the main mobile carriers and regulators to highlight the issues with these charges and their similarity to complaints about Mobile Premium Services (MPS).
Internet and landline complaint issues
We received 34,599 landline complaints, an increase of 0.9% compared to last financial year. Internet complaints increased 2.2 per cent to 31,835.
Connection and fault complaints
Connection and fault repair delays have been a theme in new complaints about landline and internet services going back three years. Recently, the increased rollout of the national broadband network (NBN) has contributed to these complaints, with one in four complaints about connection delays in 2014-15 related to NBN services.
- in some cases, it took a long time and several attempts before the consumer could speak to a person who could deal with the issue
- the provider had to deal with a wholesaler to attempt to fix faults or arrange connections, which was not always communicated to the consumer, and
- the provider had to attempt several times to repair the problem, which added time to the resolution of the complaint, especially if technicians had to be engaged.
Slow internet speeds
In 2014-15, one in six new internet complaints were about slow internet speeds. This issue, which grew by 14.7 per cent to 5,182, was prevalent in postcodes with new developments in Melbourne and in Sydney’s western suburbs.
Most consumers from these areas reported slow data speed as an ongoing issue (e.g.: “for a year now”, “in the last few months”, “since I moved to the area”). This suggests there may be capacity problems in these areas.
In 43 per cent of new complaints (53,852), consumers nominated an amount they disputed with their telco. The median value disputed was $319.
In 6,047 new complaints about mobile excess data charges, the median value disputed was $336.
In 519 new complaints about international roaming, the median value disputed was $450.