The latest figures released in the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s (TIO) 2023 Annual report show that the nation’s telcos are still not providing an acceptable standard of service in many key areas that affect their customers, with many who continue to be impacted by poor dispute resolution, sales and billing practices, and not being assisted when in financial hardship.
During the 2023 financial year, the TIO saw an increase in complaints about financial hardship and the proportion of complaints about mobile services increased to close to 50% -the highest proportion of complaints about mobiles in six years.
“Consumer Action supports the TIO’s continued call for direct and strong regulation supported by an empowered regulator to ensure telcos assist their customers where and when it matters,” said David Hofierka, Senior Policy Officer, Consumer Action Law Centre.
“Minister Rowland has directed the regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), to create enforceable standards to improve how telcos treat customers experiencing financial hardship and we will be sharing the experiences of our clients with ACMA, to make sure the standard that is created hits the mark,” he said.
Complaint numbers about the major telcos in the report also stood out, including a 30% increase in matters raised about Optus.
“I am really concerned by the large increases in mobile service complaints from customers who received ‘no or delayed’ responses from their telco; in relation to termination fees and misleading conduct; and about telcos who failed to cancel a service.
“The report highlights some worrying trends that are adding to the detriment that people are experiencing under the current cost-of-living crisis,” Mr Hofierka said.
“Complaints in many key areas impacting people in vulnerable circumstances have increased. Telcos need to do far more to meet the needs of consumers when providing essential communications services, including for those impacted by financial hardship, domestic and family violence, and those susceptible to poor sales practices”.
Media contact: Mark Pearce, Media and Communications Adviser, 0413 299 567, email@example.com