Businesses fight telcos despite complaints drop

The number of landline complaints also jumped and now account for 27.6 per cent of business complaints.

“I think what that demonstrates is how important landline services are to small businesses still. They use them to interact with their customers and all their agencies as well,” Jones says.

Council of Small Business Organisations chief executive Peter Strong says many businesses rely on landlines to operate both customer service and connect payments terminals.

“When you do have a landline, they’re essential – and this is a real concern,” he says.

The top complaint from smaller operators was that their phone or internet provider simply did not respond on time when they raised an issue.

Jones said even though the overall decrease was pleasing to see, service providers must continue to provide top-level customer service to residential and business customers.

“Nobody can say, ‘feet up, work done’. It’s so important, access to telecommunications services, and it’s so vital these days, we all rely on it.”

More than 50,000 residential customers dobbed in their telcos with complaints in the second half of last year. Less than ten per cent of consumers were worried about their landlines, while mobile phones came out on top accounting for more than 34 per cent of complaints.

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Judi Jones. Credit:Paul Jeffers

Concerns about connection to the national broadband network have plagued smaller operators in recent months, but as the NBN rollout continues, the number of issues is dropping.

There are now 6.7 complaints per 1,000 new sites that get connected to the NBN, which is a drop on the 9.2 reported in 2017.

In last year’s complaints data, small businesses saw a spike while other telco concerns decreased. Against this backdrop, the ombudsman launched a dedicated small business section at the start of this month.

“We’ll be looking at small businesses claiming they have lost money as a telco issue, and we’ll be getting the parties together on the phone more,” Jones said.

Residents and business customers with a phone or internet service complaint should contact their providers in the first instance, and can follow up with the ombudsman if their issue is not resolved.

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Emma is the small business reporter for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald based in Melbourne.

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