Comms Alliance to probe telco complaint handling

Less than half of telecom customers were satisfied with the response to their complaints

Grumbling has risen in volume among telecom customers, with one in five customers unhappy with their service and less than half satisfied with responses to complaints, according to the latest survey by the Communications Alliance.

Comms Alliance CEO John Stanton said his industry association would monitor the complaint response metric closely and investigate whether any external factors such as service disruptions or seasonal effects had influenced the result.

The Comms Alliance released its fourth quarterly Telecommunications Customer Satisfaction Survey on Monday. Ray Morgan Research conducted the online survey in December with a population-representative sample of 500 telecom users aged 18 and up.

Overall, 19 per cent of respondents reported they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with service, up from 17 per cent in the Comms Alliance’s third-wave survey. However, the figure had been 19 per cent in the its second-wave survey.

About 66 per cent of telecom customers said they were satisfied (41 per cent) or very satisfied (25 per cent), one percentage point more than the previous quarter. But fewer customers reported being neutral in the quarter, dropping to 15 per cent from 18 per cent in the third-wave survey.

The Comms Alliance said that 45 per cent of customers reported making a complaint to their telecom provider in the six months prior to the interview, about the same as the previous quarter.

Less than half (46 per cent) of those customers said they were satisfied with the response and 36 per cent said they were not happy.

Bill shock appears to be as high as ever despite the introduction of a Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) code and other industry efforts to reduce the problem.

In the latest survey, 36 per cent said they had received a telecom bill in the last six months that was higher than expected. Nearly the same number reported bill shock in the previous three quarterly surveys.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) said it's concerned about the rise in dissatisfaction levels but would like to see numbers specific to each telco.

"This poll could be transformed from puff-piece into practical information for both consumers and telcos if it showed different levels of consumer satisfaction between providers," said ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin.

"For competitive markets to operate properly, consumers need clear information on which to base their decisions – industry overviews such as this latest poll do not help consumers make choices."

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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