Technology

Optus blames Apple’s iPhone 6 for spike in complaints to the telco ombudsman

Cara Waters /

Complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about Optus have sharply increased despite overall complaints falling to an eight year low.

Figures published by the ombudsman this week show 29,560 new complaints for the period October to December last year, 3.2% down on the quarter before and 11.4% down on the same time in 2013. 

This marks an eight year low in complaints, the lowest figures since 2007.

Mobile complaints were down 1.9% for the quarter while internet and landline complaints were down 7.8% and 0.2%.

Complaints about Telstra dropped by 5.4% and complaints about the VHA Group (Vodafone, 3, and Crazy John’s) declined by 14.6%.

Defying the trend, the number of complaints about Optus increased by 17.2% to 3699 complaints for the quarter.

Source: Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman    

A spokesperson for Optus told SmartCompany the increase in complaints was “mainly due to supply issues, internal operational challenges and customer contract disputes related to the launch of new handsets within the quarter.”

The spokesperson said these new handsets were Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus.

“We’re disappointed in these results and are working hard to ensure our customers have a positive experience with Optus,” the spokesperson said.

The ombudsman provides one avenue for resolving disputes with providers and it highlighted one case involving a small business owner who was billed more than $120,000 by her provider.

The SME had several mobile phones, tablets and wireless internet services for its employees and usually paid $2500 to $3000 per month.

“Ever since they transferred all those services from another provider, their bills became irregular,” the ombudsman said in a statement.

“The business received only one or two invoices per year, often in the tens of thousands of dollars.”

The ombudsman conciliated the complaint resulting in the provider waiving $122,000 in charges which had not been billed in a 160 day time period as required by legislation.

“At the time of resolution, the business had $27,000 in outstanding valid charges that had not been billed, and the provider set up a 12-month payment plan,” the ombudsman said.

SmartCompany contacted Apple for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.

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Cara Waters

Cara Waters is the former editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter at the Financial Times website FT Adviser in London and she also worked for The Sunday Times in London.

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