Annual TIO complaints at a 10-year low | ACMA


18 November, 2016 03:05 PM


Annual TIO complaints at a 10-year low

By Editor

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We welcome the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s (TIO) release of their annual report, noting encouraging results, with an overall reduction in new complaints in 2015–16.

New complaints have decreased by 10 per cent, down from 124,417 in 2014–15 to 112,518 in 2015–16. This continues a trend of declining complaint numbers to the TIO since the launch of the Reconnecting the Customer Inquiry report in September 2011.

Despite this trend, complaint numbers plateaued over the final nine months of the 2015–16 period. We think this represents both a challenge and an opportunity for telecommunications suppliers.

Changing nature of complaints

Underpinning the overall reduction in complaints was a 30 per cent decline in mobile complaints. This is down from a peak of 63 per cent of all complaints during 2011–12. The TIO puts this down to better investment in mobile infrastructure and the strengthening of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (TCP Code).

On the other hand, complaints about internet services increased by 22 per cent to 38,877 in 2015–16, from the 31,835 complaints received during 2014–15.

Complaints about NBN services have increased, which the TIO believes is at least partly due to the rollout of NBN services to a much larger number of premises. As at 30 June 2016, over one million premises had services delivered via the NBN. This milestone has seen NBN-related complaints double to 13,406 in 2015-16.

Proportionally, the three major service types (mobile, landline and internet) contribute roughly equally to overall complaint numbers.

Service type















Proportion of new TIO complaints by service type

What are consumers complaining about?

Forty two per cent of the issues recorded during 2015–16 related to billing and payments, while 39 per cent related to customer service. These were the largest two categories of issues raised with the TIO by consumers and small businesses.

This is of particular interest to us given our role in monitoring the effectiveness of consumer protections in the TCP Code and the Mobile Premium Services Code (MPS Code). These results also help shape the ACMA’s compliance priorities by highlighting areas of concern.

Noting the overall rise in fixed internet complaints, it is no surprise to see the three most common complaints relating to internet services: slow data speed (up 40 per cent), internet fully unusable (up 19 per cent) and delays in new connections (up 38 per cent).

Unusable landlines and delays in landline connections were also a significant contributor to complaint issue numbers, increasing by six per cent and 24 per cent respectively from 2014–15.

Results are positive, but there’s more work to be done

While overall results are pleasing, the steady complaint numbers over the last nine months of 2015–16 show that there are still areas to focus on to ensure industry behaviour translates to a positive consumer experience.

While the efforts of industry since the release of the Reconnecting the Customer Inquiry report  and the subsequent amendments to the TCP Code have resulted in a huge reduction in mobile complaints, an increase in fixed internet complaints over the past 12 months highlights that more work is still to be done. We’ll have more to say about this in a future blog post, so watch this space.