Telco complaints down but customers wait longer for help

New figures released today by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) show telcos received just over one million complaints in the 2020-21 financial year. The report also found that the average time taken for telcos to resolve customer complaints was 12.2 days.

This is a media release from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). It was originally published on 19th October, 2021.

ACMA Authority Member Fiona Cameron said rules it introduced in 2018-19 have contributed to a decline in complaints of more than 35 per cent from just under 1.7 million, but that the time taken by telcos to fix problems had gone up by 49 per cent in two years, from 8.2 days in 2018-19.

“The time taken to resolve complaints is going in the wrong direction and one million complaints a year is still far too many,” Ms Cameron said.

“With so many people working from home due to COVID restrictions, it is more important than ever that telcos prioritise fixing problems and we are looking to industry to improve in this area.”

The new figures also show that the rate of complaints that were not resolved by telcos and had to be escalated to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) have increased from 7.8 per cent to 10.7 per cent in two years.

“This suggests that some telcos are not handling complaints at all well, and other smaller telcos are in fact not recording complaints at all,” she said.

“Seven smaller telcos have absurdly high escalation rates, just above 50 per cent, which indicates that some complaints are not being recorded in the first place and only being logged when escalated to the TIO.”

The ACMA will follow up with these telcos separately to ensure they understand their obligations to log all complaints as required under the Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints Handling) Industry Standard.

The data comes from ACMA’s Annual telco complaints report 2020/21, which offers anonymised, aggregated time-series data on how more than thirty top telcos are performing and areas where they need to improve.

“We think it’s time for every telco to make its complaints handling performance public and transparent. This would allow consumers to make more informed decisions when choosing a telco provider, including what to expect when things don’t go to plan,” Ms Cameron said.

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