The information has been collected under the Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints) Record-Keeping Rules 2018 each quarter since September 2018.
Naturally, the Communications Alliance says it has welcomed the ACMA’s publication of telecommunications complaints data for the October – December 2020 quarter, showing a significant decrease in the number of complaints made to telcos over the past two years, but as you'll see below, ACCAN, The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network is worried.
Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton said: “the ACMA’s data shows a nearly 25% decrease in complaints from one year ago, and a 40% decrease from the same period two years ago. This reflects the hard work telcos have been putting in to improve customer service, including through the challenges of COVID.
“Industry strengthened consumer protections with the revised Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code which commenced in August 2019. Additionally, telcos have been working on innovative service offerings and with carriers to increase customer choices and improve the customer experience.
“While there is always more work to be done, it is pleasing to see that industry’s efforts over the past years have had a positive impact, and we hope to see this trend continue,” concluded Stanton.
However, as noted, ACCAN is concerned, stating the report "highlights the need for better complaints-handling from the nation’s telcos."
“It’s great to see that the volume of telecommunications complaints from consumers has decreased by nearly 25% when compared to the same period last year,” said ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin.
“However, the ACMA’s report also shows some worrying increases in the complaints data.”
ACCAN states the ACMA’s telco complaints-handling performance data for the quarter ended December 2020 reveals that the weighted average days to resolve complaints increased 17.3% when compared to the same period last year. Additionally, there was a 6.3% increase in escalated complaints compared to the quarter ended December 2019.
“This latest data shows that it’s taking longer for telcos to resolve complaints and that more consumers are having to escalate their complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.
“Telecommunications are an essential service. When consumers are having phone or internet issues, they need to have these complaints resolved quickly and on the first try.
“It should not take nearly 20 days to resolve a consumer complaint, as was the case with one of the telcos highlighted in the ACMA’s report. It’s simply not good enough.
ACCAN also highlighted the dramatic increase in complaints per 10,000 services in operation for Fixed-Line voice services, which increased 84.2% from the same period last year.
“We know that it is primarily older Australians who are still heavily reliant on Fixed-Line voice services. For these customers, having a landline phone outage can leave them cut off from family and vital assistive services.
“This is a serious concern, and we will be liaising with the ACMA to find out more about this issue," Corbin concluded.