Phone and internet complaints increased for the first time in five quarters, according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman's Quarter Three Complaints Report.
The report shows residential consumers and small businesses made 22,203 complaints between January and March 2022, an increase of 21 per cent compared to the previous quarter. The sharp increase is counter to a two-year trend of declining complaint numbers. While the current quarter complaint levels are lower than the same time last year, the increase is significant.
Complaints increased across all service types. The most complained about service type was mobile with just over 8,500 complaints, but the steepest increase was recorded in internet services with a 31 per cent increase compared to the previous quarter.
While poor customer service and problems with a bill continue to be the main problems reported by consumers, the quarter three results show complaints about poor mobile coverage increased almost 46 per cent, and complaints about inadequate fault testing increased almost 63 per cent from the previous quarter.
Other key points from the report include:
"Over the past two years, it has been pleasing to see improved industry practices reflect in a steady decrease in our complaints," says Ombudsman Cynthia Gebert.
"This quarter's increase in complaints is a reminder that telcos need to focus on working with consumers to resolve complaints before they escalate to us," she says.
"Consumers need to be able to rely on their phone and internet services. They are essential for work, schooling, running a business and keeping in touch with friends and family.
"When problems happen, the telcos need to work with consumers to identify and repair the problem," says Gebert.
"If you have tried to fix your phone or internet problem with your telco and you cant work it out together, make a complaint with us – we're free and here to help."