Poor mobile coverage the biggest gripe of Australian telco customers: TIO

TIO 2020-21 Annual report
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Poor mobile coverage accounted for almost 40 per cent of complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman last year, as Australians vented their frustration over mobile black spots and drop-outs.

Complaints to the TIO about Australian mobile services reached their highest proportion of overall complaints in five years in 2021/22, growing 20 per cent year-on-year even as the number of complaints fell in other areas. Problems with poor mobile coverage appeared in the top ten issues in all states and territories except for the Australian Capital Territory.

All together, 79,534 complaints were received in the last financial year, a decrease of 33.4 per cent. This was the lowest volume of complaints received by the TIO in more than three years and the largest percentage reduction in a decade.

Complaints involving fault and connection issues continue to make up almost half (49.6%) of the total complaints received. This represents a slight increase from last year, driven by the increased complaints about mobile services.

Issues with connection delays, failing to cancel a service and billing issues improved, with the number of complaints dropping by more than 40 per cent. Complaints about telcos being uncontactable have also decreased considerably, and this is no longer a major issue for residential consumers and small businesses.

As the impact of the pandemic eased, while and fewer premises were connected to the NBN network as the rolllout reached its final stages, internet complaints decreased significantly but this wasn’t reflected in the total complaint numbers for services, says ombudsman Cynthia Gebert.

“Mobile services are essential for things like banking, shopping, accessing health and government services, and connecting socially, and consumers tell us their lives are disrupted when they experience problems with their mobile service,” Gebert says.

“While we’ve seen some great improvements, Australia’s telcos need to do more to resolve complaints about mobile services, including poor mobile coverage, before consumers come to my office for help.”

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