A year after introducing strict new complaint handling requirements, the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA) has released data showing telcos received a total of 1.4 million complaints over the full 2018–19 financial year.
Complaint levels over the year have dropped from a high of 124 complaints per 10,000 services in the second quarter to 97 in the final quarter of 2018–19. The median time taken to resolve these complaints decreased from 6 to 5 days over the year.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the data is key to informing the government and the industry about where problems lie allowing the sector to improve service delivery and customer satisfaction.
“This demonstrates that the initiatives driven by the Government and the sector are gaining traction and customer service is improving,” Ms O’Loughlin said.
“It must be acknowledged however, that complaint levels are still too high.”
Complaints about broadband services delivered over the NBN have reduced and average 193 per 10,000 services compared to complaints about the old fixed broadband network which average 369.
“Given the rapid take-up of NBN over the year, it is very interesting and helpful data,” she said.
Complaints about voice-only services delivered over the NBN have remained high over the year averaging 494 complaints per 10,000 services—the highest complaint rate of all services. The ACMA has written to providers requesting information about the root cause of these complaints and action being taken to rectify them.
NBN satellite services had the lowest rate of complaints of all NBN access technologies with an average of 54 complaints per 10,000 services compared to the very recent fibre to the curb technology which recorded a significant drop in complaint levels—744 in the first quarter compared with 282 in the final quarter.
“This shows that the maturity of technology does impact the complaint numbers,” Ms O’Loughlin said.
“Some of the challenges with the HFC rollout appear to be represented in the complaints data, with complaints peaking in the third quarter at 387 complaints per 10,000 services and declining to 300 in the final quarter.
“Finally, it is good to see that referral rates to the TIO are down to 5.4 per cent from a peak of 10.9 per cent with the total number of TIO complaints remaining high and averaging 24,956 for the year.”
The findings come from the Telecommunications complaints handling 2018-19 report published on the ACMA website.
NBN broadband complaints, by access technology (per 10,000 services in operation)
Optus data excluded from report
The ACMA considers that a small number of telcos need to improve the accuracy of data they provide.
This is highlighted by Optus’ data being excluded from this report due to multiple amendments of its data submissions, and ongoing data anomalies.
As a result, the ACMA has used its powers to require Optus to obtain an external audit of its compliance with the ACMA’s record-keeping rules.
“Telco complaints data serves an important purpose for industry, consumers, government and the ACMA in understanding the issues being experienced by Australian consumers with their telecommunications services,” said Ms O’Loughlin.
“A failure to provide accurate data reduces the validity of the information and impacts our ability to use it to make informed evidence-based decisions.”
Data from Optus will be included in future reports when the ACMA is confident of its accuracy.
Complaints (per 10,000 services in operation)
September quarter 2018
December quarter 2018
March quarter 2019
June quarter 2019
Complaints (June 2019 quarter)
Number of complaints
97 complaints per 10,000 services
Median time taken to resolve complaints
Median proportion of complaints referred from the TIO to reporting providers
5.4 per cent
* For the 30 June 2019 quarter
Services in operation **
Voice (non-NBN fixed voice and NBN voice-only)
Broadband (Non-NBN fixed broadband and NBN broadband)
** As at 30 June 2019