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Telco service complaints in Australia tumble as TCP code takes effect

Adam Bender | Oct. 24, 2013
Customer initiatives and stronger compliance by industry also contribute to reduction

The new TCP code has contributed to a large reduction in the number of complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) in the 2012-13 financial year, according to ombudsman Simon Cohen.

The TIO received fewer complaints in the 2012-13 financial year than it has in each of the last five years, according to a TIO annual report released today.

"A clear commitment from telcos to do better by their customers, an improved industry code and a focus on compliance are paying dividends," Cohen said.

The TIO report follows a telco industry paper released earlier this month by the Communications Alliance showing modest improvements to telecom customer satisfaction over the last quarter.

Cohen said he expected the TCP code to continue driving down the number of complaints in 2013-14. The new code was rolled out in a phased approach this year, but the ombudsman noted that telcos implemented several of the requirements ahead of schedule.

"This year with the implementation of the new international mobile roaming standard ... we should continue to see a reduction in complaints about unexpectedly higher bills and some of those disputed charges that we see on mobile services."

In 2012-13, the TIO received 158,652 complaints, an 18.1 per cent reduction from the previous year, according to the report.

Mobile accounted for most of the reduction, with the TIO seeing a 25.6 per cent decrease in the number of complaints about mobile phones. There were 91,331 mobile phone complaints in total, accounting for 57 per cent of TIO complaints in the financial year.

At the same time, landline complaints decreased 9.3 per cent to 33,940 and Internet complaints dropped 1.9 per cent to 31,431. The TIO noted that extreme weather events were to blame for many of the landline and Internet complaints.

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, which account for about 80 per cent of all complaints, all reduced their number of complaints. Ombudsman said the telcos have all made customer service a business priority.

Telstra had the most complaints of the top three telcos, but the number decreased 7.6 per cent from the previous year to 57,298.

The number of complaints about Vodafone, which has been trying to convince customers that its service has improved, dropped 24 per cent to 42,729. However, TIO said Vodafone continues to receive a high number of complaints about mobile coverage (18,945) and complaints about call dropouts actually increased 12 per cent in 2012-13 to 5,043.

The number of Optus complaints sank 36 per cent to 26,629 in the 2012-13 year. That was a big turnaround after the number of complaints increased in 2011-12 by 47 per cent to 41,602.


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