Phone and internet complaints go through the roof

Residential made 167,831 complaints to the Ombudsman in the last financial year.

Internet complaints through the roof

Complaints about landline phones, mobile phones and internet services increased by 6.2 per cent in the past financial year, with consumers making 167,831 complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s (TIO) 2017/18 Annual Report published today showed that the No.1 complaint, accounting for 34.1 per cent of all complaints, related to inaction by a service provider to resolve phone or internet issues.

The second biggest concern related to disputed charges for service or equipment fees (25.5 per cent of all complaints), with delays connecting to or changing service third on the list (12.8 per cent).

Despite the number of complaints growing in the past financial year, Telecommunication Ombudsman Judi Jones said the number of complaints seemed to be turning a corner with complaints dropping by 17.8 per cent in the final quarter of the financial year.

“Declining complaints across all landline, mobile and internet services are a positive indicator of recent industry, government and regulator efforts to address the disruption to telecommunications products and services of the past few years,” Ms Jones said.

“We all want to get to the same point: a positive consumer experience where expectations are more likely to be met.

“The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman continues to be committed to reducing complaints, and our purpose and unique role remains clear – to ensure residential consumers and small businesses have access to a free, fair, independent and effective alternative dispute resolution service.”

Overall, the rate of complaints from people connecting to the national broadband network (NBN) dropped marginally in the second half of the past financial year.

In all, 14,589 complaints about establishing a connection to the National Broadband Network (NBN) were recorded in 2017/18. Between 1 January and 30 June, complaints per 1000 premises added to the NBN decreased from 9.2 to 9.0.

Queensland recorded the highest growth in complaints, an increase of 13.2 per cent, followed by Western Australia with 10.7 per cent.

The highest proportion of complaints came from New South Wales with 31.6 per cent, followed by Victoria with 28.4 per cent.

Of the top 10 phone and internet service providers, MyRepublic performed worst, receiving 1816 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 101.6 per cent. On the other side of the ledger, iiNet received 7719 complaints, which represented a year-on-year decrease of 24.1 per cent.

Have you ever had cause to complain to the TIO? Which service provider do you use? Are you happy with their performance?



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    17th Oct 2018
    In spite of being listed as "priorirty assist" we have continuing problems with connection to the internet. We have no mobile phone cover - we are in a black spot. This causes us lots of problems as we live out of town, and my husband is an invalid.
    We have stand-alone solar power - but if we were connected to the NBN we would have more problems as the town power is unreliable in stormy weather and the wet season and phones go off when the power is off! The best, cheapest emergency call buttons require mobile phone cover. What do we do?
    Old Geezer
    17th Oct 2018
    We have NBN wireless which can be run off our stand alone battery power system in blackouts.
    17th Oct 2018
    When the grid went out here after a storm the mobile towers went down with it. It's unreliable in an energy outage now. Even with battery power or generators the actual system itself may go down.
    17th Oct 2018
    This is not a new issue and the real problem goes straight back to the current government which refuses to do anything to offend the industry....a which would result in electoral donations drying up.
    We had an extended disconnection problem with Optus and, as the article says, Optus refused to do anything. I spent a whole day being transferred around their Indian Call Centre and a complete refusal to direct the call back to the Australian arm of the business. Then to the TIO which we discovered was an industry body. told they were busy for a month. Then when we got to the management in Australia they continued to refuse to fix their mess and tried to shake us out.
    The end result was we did get it fixed but the mandatory compensation was not paid with the Mitch Fifield's office refusing to become involved and the TIO sticking its head back in the sand.

    This industry requires the same sort of Royal Commission afforded to the financial industry with significant fines for the culture of wrongdoing. The old story: if you can get away with murder why obey the law/rules? The government of the day is to blame!
    17th Oct 2018
    I can't for the life of me see how government has anything to do with your problem with Optus, MICK. Optus is a private company that has never had anything to do with any government either past or present. I find it interesting that when you post anything that you can always find a way to denigrate the government even if the government has nothing to do with the topic.
    17th Oct 2018
    Might have to complain to the Singapore Government about Optus - they seem to be the owners through their investment arm.
    17th Oct 2018
    Good luck getting anywhere with foreign owned Corporations MICK. We now have a third world grid and telecom system. No use blaming our Government now as they flogged everything off to foreign companies and Governments and we are fair game.
    17th Oct 2018
    It actually does OM. The Minister is responsible for ensuring the Act is properly policed. Fifield is quite clear that the compensation legislation needs to be adhered to. He refused to enter into discussions about this. As clear as mud!

    For the record Cowboy Jim almost all the telcos are branded with the same brush. Telstra has two services, one top end the other budget. You may wish to read some of the comments on a website called ProdctReview. With almost 1200 responses for Optus alone most are in the worst case basket. Other telcos likewise. There were only one or two different and these were smaller players.

    I don't care who is in government but whoever is in needs to put a Royal Commission through this industry. If you think banks were bad you'll be blown away at what will come out of this industry.
    17th Oct 2018
    Yes MICK business clients with Telstra have a dedicated call centre in Australia. One service for them and we get the dregs.
    17th Oct 2018
    OM, the government is responsible for the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code, which in practice offers the consumer ZERO protection. The industry had input into its formulation - rather like putting Dracula in charge of the blood-bank!
    17th Oct 2018
    Old Man, as I was scrolling the page up I read the first two lines of the comment and said to myself 'This is from Mick' and was right.
    Never bother to read anything from Mick or Old Geezer as neither has anything constructive to contribute.
    17th Oct 2018
    Actually, greenie, I have found that MICK has a lot of sensible comments with which I agree. Every now and then I challenge his posts when I believe that they are factually incorrect.
    17th Oct 2018
    Constructive? Fair comment. Read on.....a government for the people would be truly constructive rather than government from the Murdoch and Stokes empire.
    Never seen you on this website before greenie but have your say. Democracy is are comments which get at the heart of a problem. That's where I try to come from.
    17th Oct 2018
    I have yet to hear anything good about NBN and dread the day it gets to my town. From Canberra to Blackheath to Newcastle people hate it and their service became much worse when they had to change over. Have just been informed it will be in my area in 18 months. Not looking forward to that day.
    17th Oct 2018
    Actually, bobbalinda, the NBN is quite good. There have been many complaints about the NBN when they are blameless. The NBN is a wholesale entity which onsells its product to the retailers which are the Telcos who, in turn will onsell to you. The Telcos are the ones who supply the internet and telephone systems to the public, not the NBN.

    In our area, the majority of complaints centred around a loss of 'phone and internet because people signed up to the NBN, through a Telco, before the NBN had reached the area. We have been fortunate in that we signed up after the NBN was available, found that following the changeover instructions was straightforward and achieved a much faster broadband than previously. I hope your broadband experience mirrors ours.

    No, I don't work for the government, NBN or any entity connected with communications. I am retired.
    17th Oct 2018
    Our service has been great but I have read about the issues. Our only problem came at the hands of Optus who we ditched forever at the time we put the NBN on. Best move we ever made.
    17th Oct 2018
    Very good comment Old Man. Hope everyone reads this and stops bagging NBN. Cheers.

    Mick, am just a lurker who occasionally has time to read some of the drivel [among a few interesting articles] on this site. Keep up the comments for the amusement of all.
    17th Oct 2018
    greenie...NBN actually ran the NBN cables attached to my fence line instead of underground where the actual copper telephone wire were? This was a distance of approx 150 metres and blatantly obvious that this was an area that was burnt as part of the fire season protection.
    Photographs sent to our last PM were ignored as were the photo,s sent to Mr William Shorten. Nothing unusual with our politics or the could not care less attitude which is part of the greed that is a politicians lot.
    Six months later it was rectified and as I said no acknowledgement from either party.
    Will be voting Independent and Pensioners next time around.
    17th Oct 2018
    ON Friday I am connecting to the NBN via optus the only reason I am joining so I can get Netflix etc so I can get of Foxtel as I do not like the way Murdoch runs this country
    17th Oct 2018
    Since I got the nbn put on about 18 months ago I have had no problems at all, I am with Optus, I am not sure that my internet is any better than the ADSL 2 I used to have, but because I don’t use any streaming services, well not often enough for it to bother me anyway, where I do have problems is with the landline, there seems to be a delay when I make or receive calls, I am sometimes ready to hang up by the time the calls come through, I also believe that communication is a necessity and should be gst free, and I thought this business of charging me extra because I refuse to have direct debit and insist on a paper bill was going to be stopped, my $60 plan costs $71:50 I suppose that’s the price I have to pay to have things the way I want them.

    17th Oct 2018
    The TIO is a toothless tiger - funded by the Telcos themselves when a complaint is made. If the TIO were to resolve complaints, its revenue stream would dry up.

    Data overrun fees I'm told (by the TIO) are a major source of complaints, because the telcos do not update their data usage webpages quickly enough. Scumbaggery all 'round!
    17th Oct 2018
    Telstra rang the other day to say they would be changing my landline to nbn next month. I explained that we have our internet with another carrier and he said I should get them to come out the same day.
    I'm a bit worried about getting the nbn as everyone I know who has had it put on seems to have problems for a few weeks afterwards.
    18th Oct 2018
    I would check up on that don't forget Telstra is a private company like this government they will do anything for a quid I thought you had 2 years before the change I was virgin wireless and I am changing only to get off Foxtel and go to Netflix as free to air is useless

    18th Oct 2018
    This article provides a great insight into a fully privatised industry's performance in this small country with limited customers! In fact, the TIO only reports on the size of the tip of this iceberg, with many times more issues going unreported as people either give up or accept the poor services.

    The biggest 3 issues - inaction on issues, wrong bill charges, and delays on requests - hey, aren't these always the results you would get from a workforce which has been devalued with good staff retrenched (restructuring outcomes), or Outsourced to cheap low-quality overseas countries, or simply reduced staff - all for increasing CEO's bonuses? Combined with inaction by self-centred, out-of-touch, greedy politicians on both sides?

    Yes, a Royal Commission is necessary into this industry without any shred of doubt.
    23rd Mar 2020
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