ACMA’s Annual Telephone Company Complaint Report 2020–21 shows the time taken to resolve complaints is increasing, taking on average 12.2 days, up by 49 per cent in two years.
There was a total of 1 million complaints recorded, which is down by 35 per cent from 1.7 million in 2018–19 — a decline which ACMA attributes to new rules it introduced in that year. These new rules are set out in the Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints Handling) Industry Standard 2018 (the Standard).
“The time taken to resolve complaints is going in the wrong direction and 1 million complaints a year is still far too many,” said ACMA authority member Fiona Cameron.
“With so many people working from home due to COVID restrictions, it is more important than ever that telcos prioritise fixing problems, and we are looking to industry to improve in this area.”
Also, the number of complaints that had to be escalated to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has increased from 7.8 per cent to 10.7 per cent in two years.
Ms Cameron said this shows some telcos are not handling complaints very well, or even at all.
“Seven smaller telcos have absurdly high escalation rates, just above 50 per cent, which indicates that some complaints are not being recorded in the first place and only being logged when escalated to the TIO,” she said.
Ms Cameron called on the industry to make its complaints handling data public and transparent so consumers can make more informed choices.
The report uses anonymised, aggregated time-series data on how more than 30 top telcos are performing and areas where they need to improve.