Complaints for phone and internet services shot up nearly 10 per cent during the December quarter, with Optus' September data breach blamed as a major influence for the rise.
According to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s (TIO) Quarter Two Complaints Report, complaints for both service types combined rose by 9.9 per cent quarter-on-quarter.
The report stated that complaints about the unauthorised disclosure of personal information jumped up to third place in the top 10 most complained-of issues during the three months to 31 December 2022, making up 11 per cent of all complaints.
Additionally, mobile complaints about non-financial losses such as stress and humiliation from a privacy breach came in at eighth place for mobile complaints, which made up 6 per cent of all complaints for the service type.
By comparison, both of these issues did not even make the previous quarter’s top 10 lists at all.
The previous report only captured the first week of complaints relating to the Optus breach, as it occurred in late September while the previous report only analysed data up until 31 September.
“We began to see the impact of the Optus data breach on our mobile complaint issues at the end of the previous quarter, but the complaints from this period of October to December really highlight the problems people are experiencing because of the breach,” said TIO Cynthia Gebert.
“Privacy and the unauthorised disclosure of personal information are not the only issues for consumers. We’re also handling an increased number of complaints from Optus customers about disputed termination fees, customer service problems and failing to cancel a mobile service.
“We're continuing to work closely with Optus to ensure consistent approaches are being taken to resolving complaints so that people can get a fair and reasonable outcome and we have adapted how we work to handle the higher volume of complaints we received.”
Unsurprisingly, Optus complaints surged 39.3 per cent to 6,436 individual grievances, representing 36 per cent of the total pool. Despite this, it was unable to surpass Telstra as the most complained about telco at 6,819, or 38 per cent of all complaints.
It is important to note however that Telstra’s large consumer base means that it is likely to have more complaints. In fact, complaints for the telco were down quarter-on-quarter by 2 per cent.
Other telcos in the top 10 most complained about ranking that saw rises were iiNet with an increase of 20.8 per cent, Vodafone with 5.8 per cent and TPG with 4.2 per cent.
All other telcos in the top 10, which include Aussie Broadband, Southern Phone Company, Dodo, Internode and Medion Australia, recorded declines.
On the whole, all complaints rose by 9.8 per cent to 17,903 complaints. Of this, mobile services complaints rose by 19.1 per cent compared to the previous quarter to 9,038, while internet services complaints were up by 10.2 per cent, to 5,250.
Landline complaints, meanwhile, decreased by 20.2 per cent to 974.