Telecom complaints still growing in Aust

Dylan Bushell-Embling
25 Aug 2009

Australians made over 125,000 complaints about telecom services during the first half of this year – around 20,000 per month – with complaints increasing despite a campaign to prevent them.

Australia's Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) said complaints rose 1.8% during the first six months of the connect.resolve campaign – which aims to help operators improve their customer service and complaint handling procedures.


About 35% of the complaints lodged with the TIO were about customer service issues that should be simple to resolve, the Ombudsman said. “They are at the center of this campaign and need to be a serious focus for the industry if it is to increase consumer confidence.”

Communications minister Stephen Conroy said the high number of complaints remains cause for concern.

“The increase in complaint statistics over the past 18 to 24 months suggests that consumers do not have confidence in their service providers,” he said during yesterday's report launch.

“At a minimum, it suggests the performance of telecom companies has not met consumer expectations. I remain concerned that the number of consumer complaints being registered is simply too high and industry is not doing enough.”

While complaints to incumbent Telstra dropped 1.7%, the number of unhappy customers at rivals Optus and newly-formed VHA spiked by around a fifth.

Optus complaints increased 18.4%, with customer complaints actually increasing to 33.6% from 32.7%. Optus said it had launched new programs aimed at improving customer experience, and pledged to improve its training processes.

Complaints about Hutchison and Vodafone - who merged recently to create VHA – grew 22% and 13% respectively.

Nigel Dews CEO of the new company, VHA, said the connect.resolve campaign was “based on data comparisons that are debatable to say the least,” but acknowledged that the operator had room for improvement.

Telstra’s new CEO David Thodey said he was “disappointed” with the figures. “There has been a substantial improvement in some aspects of Telstra’s performance... however we need to do much better,” he said in a submission.

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