Australia’s Most Complained About Telco List has a New Title Holder

complaints to the TIO

Complaints to the TIO have increased

The latest Communications Alliance Complaints in Context report shows MyRepublic is no longer the most complained about telco in Australia. After holding on to that title for six straight months, Southern Phone has now taken over at the top of the list.

complaints to the TIO per 10,000

Complaints to the TIO per 10,000 services in operation – 9-month period. src

The report indicates a general increase in complaints throughout, not only for Southern Phone – overall 7.1 per 10,000 active services, up from 6.2. The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has attributed the 13% overall increase in complaints between January and March to the bushfires and floods. And with the coronavirus causing telco problems as well, perhaps these increases shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Inside the Communications Alliance Complaints in Context report

While the report once included only telcos that voluntarily participated, it now includes all telcos that round up the top 10 of complaints to the TIO. Australians can benefit from the list when choosing which service provider to go to, as it gives a great idea of what to expect from a potential telco when issues surface.

Southern Phone was actually improving prior to this latest report. The telco went from 25.3 complaints per 10,000 services in operation in July to September, to 20.1 in October to December; but between January and March, complaints increased to 22.5. Meanwhile, MyRepublic improved over the period, falling from 29.3 complaints to 18.7.

Here’s a look at how the major telcos ranked for number of complaints per 10.000 services in operation:

  • iiNet – most complained about major telco at 12.2
  • iPrimus – next in line with a significant jump from 6.2 to 11.8
  • Telstra – 8.4 complaints per 10,000
  • TPG – 7.5 complaints
  • Optus – 6
  • Vodafone – 3

Some interesting highlights about Vodafone, Optus, and Telstra

This year was a rough one. Bushfires caused some significant damage and disruptions, and then COVID-19 came along with its own set of troubles.

During the height of the coronavirus stay-at-home orders, networks experienced significant congestion. Telstra and Optus experienced mobile network outages and disruptions in major cities as most Australians began working from home, using their internet connections a lot more.

But what’s interesting is that these telco giants still didn’t top the list of most complained about service providers, despite the disruptions.

Vodafone is also noteworthy. While the telco went through some struggles a few years ago, their complaints have continued to decline. In 2018, we reported on their 22% decline in complaints over the years, to just 3.9 per 10,000 services in operation.

Last year, the telco’s complaints were just 2.5 from July to September and 2.7 from October to December. Now, another slight increase to 3 complaints per 10,000 services in operation from January to March – still a great figure compared to the past, considering this year’s natural disasters.

Increased complaints from businesses

Apparently, businesses had a lot to complain about as well. The TIO cites a 15 percent increase in filed complaints by business. Of the around 19,000 complaints, 885 of them had to do with some sort of accidental disconnection.

Prior to the National Broadband Network (NBN), several business could share one phone line for “multiple services”. Now, each business gets its own location ID. So when a business signs up for NBN service and disconnects their previous service, that line also disconnects for other businesses that shared the location ID.

In Summary

The Communications Alliance latest report shows an overall increase in complaints to the TIO. Southern Phone has now taken the top spot as the most complained about telco, while the final title holder saw its complaints drop by over 8 per 10,000 services in operation.

While the report shows increases, the current climate of natural disasters can be blamed for a lot of it. With service interruptions increasing from the bushfires and the coronavirus, it’s easy to imagine the complaints pouring in. Add to that the NBN issues with inadvertently disconnecting businesses.

But even so, there are some bright spots for the top telcos. Although Telstra and Optus have seen more complaints over the past year, the increases haven’t been so significant. And Vodafone, once vilified, seems to have turned things around with an impressive 3 complaints per 10,000 services in operation.

Thus, overall, the results in this latest report can be somewhat excused, especially considering the overall 13 percent spike between January and March. However, the report still serves as a great place to start if you’re researching a new telco.

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.