Telstra has overtaken Optus as Australia's most complained-about telco

Photo: James Alcock/Getty Images

The telecommunications industry ombudsman has released the latest quarterly numbers for complaints – and in terms of complaints per customer Telstra is now the industry leader.

After many quarters at the top, Optus was pipped by Telstra in the October to December 2016 period. Telstra recorded 6.8 complaints per 10,000 services-in-operation (SIO), compared to 6.7 for Optus.

A Telstra spokesperson said that the company was aware of the increase in customers choosing to escalate their concerns to the ombudsman.

“We believe this has been largely driven by technical faults experienced between October and December 2016 as well as the increasing number of customers transitioning to the NBN,” the spokesperson said.

“We have a comprehensive plan in place to help us do a better job of meeting our customers’ expectations in the future.”

After a series of high-profile outages last year, Telstra vowed to invest in its network to improve its performance. However, last Thursday a fire at a northern Sydney exchange disrupted services nationally for several hours, while on the same night Perth residents also lost their mobile and landline after a third party dug into a cable.

Complaints to the TIO per 10,000 services. (Source: TIO)

Optus had been the telco with the highest number of complaints per 10,000 SIO in every quarter since at least July 2015. But its rate of ombudsman complaints have been on a downward trend since January last year.

An Optus spokesperson said that the improvement can be attributed to changes such as stricter lock downs on premium SMS and mobile content charges, giving call centre staff “additional tools” to help customers affected by mass outages, proactively migrating landline customers to the NBN as it arrives in their area, and “actively monitoring and investing” in its network.

Vodafone, after seeing a spike last quarter, came back down to third on the table, with 5.0 complaints. Independent providers Amaysim and Pivotel brought up the rear, with just 1.0 complaints each, compared to the industry average of 6.4 per 10,000 services.

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