Small business telecommunications complaints are on an upward trajectory, according to the latest data from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.
A total of 9,947 complaints from small businesses were recorded between July—December 2017, an increase of 15.6% compared to the same time frame in 2016. Small business accounted for 11.6% of total complaints lodged with the ombudsman in this time frame.
Complaints about multiple telecommunications services led all comers, amassing 39.6% of small business criticisms. Landline phone services were the source of 21.9% of small business complaints, whereas mobile phone and internet services accounted for 20.9% and 17.3%, respectively. In a slight anomaly, 0.4% of complaints were related to access or damage to property.
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell believes that the relationship between telecommunication services and small business is trending downward, especially when it comes to access to broadband internet.
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“I have had a lot of meetings around Australia with small businesses and [broadband connections] is always one of the issues that is constantly raised,” Carnell tells SmartCompany.
“The great dilemma is who is to blame in the situation. The NBN aren’t selling the service, more so the telecommunications companies.”
So what are the steps that can be put in place to rectify the issues? Carnell believes the pressure needs to be put back on the federal government.
“The government understandably put initial priority on residential connections … but it is time for government to focus on small business connections now that the rollout has commenced,” Carnell says.
“Often small business owners come to us and say, ‘My home connection is fine, but my business connection two blocks down the street is struggling.’ It’s time to lift the focus.”
Carnell says small business owners who are having telecommunications issues should continue to speak up.
“Those having continuous issues should make sure to contact the telecommunications ombudsman or even to come to my office,” she says.
“Small business owners should also remember to shop around … NBN is just a service rollout; they don’t actually sell the service, shop around, get some quotes and find the best company for your business.”
State-by-state small business complaints
In a competition that no state or territory would be aiming to win, Northern Territory small businesses logged the highest percentage of complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman in the six-month period. Of the 504 complaints received in the NT, 93, or 18.5%, came from small businesses.
Here’s how the number of small complaints from other other states and territories compare:
Australian Capital Territory — 94 complaints (7.9%)
New South Wales — 3,181 complaints (11.8%)
Northern Territory — 93 complaints (18.5%)
Queensland — 2,046 complaints (12.5%)
South Australia — 673 complaints (10.3%)
Victoria — 2,744 complaints (11.5%)
Tasmania — 172 complaints (10.7%)
Western Australia — 864 complaints (11.7%)