Small business complaints about telco services hit ‘surprising’ three-year high

Source: Unplash/Sigmund.

The number of complaints from small businesses about phone and internet services reached a three-year high last financial year, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has revealed.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) released its annual report today, showing complaints from small businesses escalated by 6.6% when compared to the previous year, reaching a total of 19,689 in the financial year ending June 30. These new figures are the highest recorded over the past three years.

The main grievances of businesses included no or delayed action by a service provider after an issue was raised, costly service and equipment fees and complaints about having no access to functioning phone and internet services.

Complaints about financial loss resulting from phone and internet problems grew by 13.3%.

Alexi Boyd, chief executive of the Council of Small Business Associations (COSBOA), says it’s surprising to see an increase in the number of complaints by small businesses.

“But I think that that is reflective of the new ways that small businesses are working, and an expectation that the telecommunications companies will keep up that level of demand,” Boyd tells SmartCompany.

Boyd says a major issue is the number of small businesses using residential packages instead of more efficient business packages. 

“We are calling for telcos to work harder to make sure small businesses are on the right package, and similarly small businesses need to know that they have to be using business products,” she says.

The ombudsman’s report shows the internet is the most complained about service type, accounting for 33.4% of complaints from residential consumers and small businesses.

Mobile phone services were the next most complained about service type at almost 33% of complaints.

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Judi Jones described the report’s findings as “mixed” with overall complaint volumes declining by 6%, while complaints from small businesses increasing by 6.6%.

“The trend in small business complaints is concerning. Small businesses need reliable phone and internet services, and useful support when those services aren’t working as they should,” Jones said.

“We will continue reporting on these complaint trends and working with the telcos to reduce these complaints and improve practices.”

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