Monday, October 31, 2016

Aussie Telco Complaints Are Through The Roof" Optus worst

Complaints to telecommunications providers are up by over 16 per cent, according to the latest report detailing the number of new landline, mobile and internet complaints the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) receives.

Optus is the worst offender, while Amaysim proves the most loved among customers.

The Telecommunications Complaints In Context report — a quarterly report jointly published by the TIO and Communications Alliance — showed that total complaints per 10,000 SIO for all participating telcos was 6.2 in the July-September quarter, an increase of 16.4 per cent during the same period in 2015.

Despite the increase, this number is still 22 per cent lower than when reporting began in 2013, and a 3.1 per cent improvement on the last quarter.

Amaysim took out the top spot with only 1.1 complaints per 10,000 SIO, with Pivotel just behind on receiving 1.3 complaints per 10,000 SIO.

Telstra recorded 6.0 complaints per 10,000 SIO — down form last quarter's 6.8. Despite receiving the most complaints — 7.2 complaints per 10,000 SIO — this was still down from last quarter's 7.7 figure.

Vodafone jumped from 3.8 to 6.2 complaints per 10,000 SIO, matching the average across all participating telcos.

The first Complaints in Context report published data from July to September 2013. At that time, there were 7.9 TIO complaints per 10,000 SIO for all participating providers.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Optus faces deluge of complaints from English Premier League fans over soccer app performance

FRUSTRATED soccer fans have lodged a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission red-carding Optus’ coverage of the English Premier League.

Optus has been flooded with complaints from frustrated fans, who have reported frozen screens, the app failing to load and jumpy pictures when they tune in to the exclusive Australian service.

Fans forced to stream the world’s most famous soccer league online for the first time this season have also complained about matches billed as live being shown on delay.

Others whose app has crashed as soon as it loads, or who have been left staring at a blank screen, have demanded better service, compensation or their money back.

In a bid to keep customers happy, the Singapore-owned telco has hired a 24/7 team to try to solve glitches, but admitted the system was not perfect.

Optus, Australia’s second-largest telecommunications company, last week admitted subscriber delays in coverage were “caused by limitations in the technology used’’.

Optus spokeswoman Gab­rielle Crittenden acknowledged “some initial teething problems and some complaints from customers’’ but claimed “the vast majority’’ of customers had a “great’’ experience.

“We are only a few rounds into the EPL season and we have had a good start to our EPL broadcast coverage and service to date,’’ it said.

But a 50-second streaming delay has sparked considerable angst among fans.

A complaint made to the ACCC during the week said in part: “the service offered was numerously described as being ‘live’, it is clearly not live.

“And so Optus/Optus Sport need to compensate their customers for the degraded product being offered.’’

Fans already angry they had to join Optus to see EPL matches live have also complained they’ve been charged for using data while watching on an app they were told would be free.

Viewers claim broadcast quality is not as good as it was on Fox Sports.

Optus had hoped to score a winner with fans by signing a three-year deal believed to be worth $180 million for Aussie EPL rights. Instead, it scored an own goal with fans when transmission was cut to coverage of one match in the opening round and has copped constant criticism over the quality of streaming since.

Optus will publish a new app upgrade this week that it hopes will improve service.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Optus Out: EPL fans rage after football streaming service hits technical faults

When Optus shocked the Australian sporting landscape by buying the rights for the English Premier League, outbidding Foxtel three-to-one, there were murmurs of discontent within the football fraternity.

Those murmurs grew to howls of disapproval after Optus released their packages and plans, which required an Optus broadband or mobile plan to watch the EPL. Needless to say, fans were not happy about being railroaded into joining the network.

Football fans went ballistic on Twitter after streams of the games were reported intermittently cutting out, showing poor-quality images and suffering delays.

The hashtag #OptusOut began trending as the worst of the problems occurred during Sunday night's games of Manchester United v Bournemouth and Arsenal v Liverpool.

The "live" feed of the games was reportedly delayed by as much as 60 seconds.

An Optus spokeswoman said the disruption was caused by the Premier League satellite service, not the Optus network.

"Optus can confirm that there was a 30 second transmission disruption during the broadcast of last night's Premier League match between Bournemouth vs Manchester United. We have been advised by the Premier League that the disruption was caused by their satellite distribution supplier.

"The issue was not related to an Optus mobile or fixed broadband network outage, or the Optus Sport App.

"As soon as Optus became aware of the issue, we switched to an alternative feed. We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused and appreciate their patience while the broadcast was restored."

The delays in the telecast are "consistent with the viewing experience on other web-based or App content services currently operating in Australia," the spokeswoman confirmed.

Fans who had set up notifications from their clubs on their phones had key moments ruined by the delay.

Foxtel had set a high bar over the years with their EPL coverage, but in their first attempt at wresting the throne away from the pay TV giant it would seem Optus failed miserably.

The Optus coverage costs a minimum of $30 a month for a mobile sim plan, without a phone. Fans would then need to fork out an extra $5 a month for a Fetch TV box to broadcast the Premier League, or use an Apple TV device if they have one.

Optus recommend customers experiencing difficulties contact them directly via their social media channels or 24/7 technical support on 131 344 for trouble shooting advice.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Optus is most complained-about telco again

Complaints to telcos are on the rise following an all-time low just seven months ago.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) calculates complaints from landline, mobile and internet services from residential and small businesses by measuring the amount of new complaints for every 10,000 services-in-operation for Australia's five biggest telcos.

During the quarter from April to June 2016, the TIO received an average of 6.4 new complaints for every 10,000 services. The average complaints in the previous quarter was 6.2.

The TIO noted that complaints historically drop during the second quarter.

Optus once again received the most complaints with 7.7 for every 10,000 services, followed by Telstra with 6.8, Vodafone with 3.8 and Pivotel with 1. However, Optus has shown signs of improvement since last year, fielding 8.5 complaints from April to June in 2015.

Australia's fourth-largest telco Amaysim was once again the least complained-about telco with only 0.8.

Complaints have fallen by 1.5 per 10,000 services year-on-year since the TIO began publishing its data in 2013, reaching an all-time low of 4.8 from October to December of 2015.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Optus Is Refunding $2.4 Million To Mobile Insurance Customers

ASIC raised concerns about Optus' compliance with Australian financial services laws, and now the telco is refunding approximately $2.4 million (including interest) to around 175,000 Optus mobile customers.

ASIC's concerns arose after Optus reported a breach about its failure to provide certain customers with a Product Disclosure Statement and a Financial Services Guide. This breach affected customers who purchased mobile phone insurance in store or by phone, and occurred over a number of years. As a result, many customers may not have been aware of certain key features and limitations of the insurance that they purchased.

Following ASIC's inquiries, Optus reported four further breaches where customers did not receive one month free insurance under a promotional offer they were entitled to, were incorrectly charged a premium for insurance during a "rain-check" period, were not provided with the required information before purchasing an insurance policy over the phone (e.g. information about excesses and cooling-off rights) and were issued the wrong cover.

Some customers received "Device Insurance" cover instead of the more favourable and less expensive "Yes Cover".

ASIC was concerned that these breaches indicated that Optus had inadequate compliance systems and processes, such as training, monitoring and supervision of staff.

Optus will be writing to all customers who may be affected. Where overcharging has occurred, Optus will take steps to contact past customers and will compensate current customers by a direct credit to the customer's account, which will include interest. Optus is also proposing to pay amounts owing to former customers who cannot be located to a charity assisting with financial literacy.

In response to ASIC's concerns, Optus has appointed an independent external firm to conduct a comprehensive review of its compliance functions to ensure ongoing compliance with its Australian financial services licence obligations.

ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell today welcomed the steps taken by Optus to compensate affected consumers.

"It is important that when a business is licensed by ASIC to sell financial products to retail consumers, it ensures that it does so consistently with the representations it has made to consumers, and in compliance with the financial services laws," Kell said. "Where consumers have suffered a detriment, it is important that remediation is undertaken, and that steps are taken to ensure that the business is operating in compliance with the relevant legal obligations."

Consumers who purchased mobile phone insurance from Optus and who think they may be affected by these breaches should contact Optus on 1800 854 349 (Mon to Fri 8am-6pm).

Friday, April 22, 2016

Telstra complaints are rising but Optus is the worst, reports telecommunications ombudsman

TELSTRA is still suffering from its national phone network outages, with the telecommunications ombudsman confirming complaints are on the rise.

Despite common perceptions, Australia’s most popular phone provider attracted more complaints than its competitors Vodafone and Amaysim, and more than the industry average, in figures released this afternoon.

Optus won the wooden spoon, however, with the highest rate of complaints and the highest jump in complaints.

New complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about Telstra now sit at 6.4 for every 10,000 services, it reported today, up from 4.9 complaints in the last three months of 2015.

By comparison, Vodafone attracted a rate of 3.7 complaints in every 10,000 services, Amaysim just one complaint, and the industry average sat at 6.2 complaints.

The TIO said reports about telecommunications providers rose 29 per cent as a proportion of services at the start of this year, though “summer weather events” frequently affect these results.

However Australia’s leading but arguably most embattled provider, Telstra, suffered two national outages to its mobile phone network in February and March this year, which may have affected its results.

Telstra compensated customers with two days of “free data” use for the outages, however its network delivered a slow experience for some users on the second occasion.

Despite Telstra’s complaint increase, Optus proved the biggest complaints magnet for phone and internet users, with 7.9 complaints per 10,000 services, up from 5.9 at the end of last year.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Optus customers on hold as Home Zone blackspot base stations abandoned

Optus is refusing to back down on plans to scrap its Home Zone indoor mobile base stations at the end of March, despite growing customer complaints regarding the telco's replacement mobile VoIP app.

Leon de Jonge runs a small marketing and design consultancy from home, living in an Optus mobile blackspot 20 kilometres west of central Brisbane. To access the mobile network he relies on an Optus-issued Home Zone "femtocell" indoor mobile base station, which mimics a mobile tower but diverts mobile calls and data via his home broadband connection.

The Australian communications watchdog has cracked down on unlicensed femtocells, which can interfere with nearby devices; but Optus, Telstra and Vodafone have all introduced licensed mobile base stations in the last few years to assist customers in mobile blackspots and help improve indoor coverage.

Alternative femtocells such as the Cel-Fi are approved for use in Australia but cost more than $1000 and receive little publicity from the mobile network providers. Unlike the Home Zone, the Cel-Fi amplifies a weak mobile signal rather than diverting mobile traffic via fixed-line broadband.

Optus unveiled the Home Zone in 2012, charging customers up to $15 per month for the box while offering unlimited local, national and mobile calls to the primary mobile phone associated with the account.

An Optus customer for 10 years, de Jonge moved to his current Brisbane home in 2012 knowing it was a coverage blackspot but reassured that the Home Zone would improve mobile reception. It has reliably provided five bars of mobile coverage throughout his home and surrounding area, but now Optus is preparing to pull the plug.

Home Zone customers received a letter from Optus mid-March, giving them several weeks' notice that it intends to cease support for the Home Zone at the end of the month in favour of its WiFi Talk app. Available for Android and Apple devices, the app lets Optus customers make and receive calls and texts via Wi-Fi networks.

The app is plagued by dropped and missed calls along with lag and poor voice quality, de Jonge says, echoing the complaints of dozens of customers on Optus' community blog. A smartphone app is also a poor substitute for a stronger mobile signal which works with all mobile devices, he says.

"To run a home-based business, it's important to have reliable and efficient mobile reception," de Jonge says.

"It's bad enough that the reception is so terrible at only 20km from the Brisbane CBD without Optus scrapping the Home Zone. Our Wi-Fi signal doesn't reach as far as the Home Zone femtocell, plus this app doesn't replace the functionality and convenience of using a standard mobile.

"My partner uses my old iPhone, which isn't supported by this app, so there'll be no reception for her until she buys a new phone."

Fellow Home Zone user Trent, who lives in an Optus mobile blackspot in the hills of northern Sydney, has been an Optus customer for 14 years and stuck with the telco because of the Home Zone.

"With the replacement Optus WiFi Talk app, phone calls drop out, it can't send MMS messages, and I need to have the app running the whole time," he says.

"To make matters worse, the mobile is permanently searching for a tower signal, which drains the battery.

"What is really sad is that Optus just seems to be ignoring all the complaints and issues raised by customers on this. Surely it is not really innovation to offer an inferior product with less functionality to replace a product that is working perfectly well."

So far, customer calls to delay the switch-over have fallen on deaf ears, with Optus confirming that the Home Zone service will cease on March 31 in favour of the WiFi Talk app.

"WiFi Talk is an easy-to-use app that allows customers to make and receive calls and send text messages over a Wi-Fi connection," an Optus spokesperson says.

"Optus is working with customers to assist them to migrate to WiFi Talk. We're currently looking into upgrades that will improve the functionality of the WiFi Talk app and address some of those concerns that customers are voicing."

Monday, February 8, 2016

Optus is most complained-about telco

Optus has recorded more new complaints per user in the last quarter than either Telstra or Vodafone.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman announced that it received 5.9 new complaints per 10,000 services in operation for Optus in the quarter ending 31 December. Telstra recorded 4.9 and Vodafone had 3.5 new complaints per 10,000 services.

The industry average for the quarter was 4.8 new complaints for every 10,000 services.

Amaysim - Australia’s fourth largest mobile telco and an Optus 4G reseller - left its larger rivals for dead, with just 0.7 new complaints per 10,000 services.

“We’ve beaten our own [personal best], which just so happens to also be the best rating in the industry,” said Amaysim compliance and service operations manager Chad Heininger.

Despite its top ranking, Optus has improved in the last three quarters. In June 2015, the Singtel-owned telco copped 8.5 complaints per 10,000 services, then in September it reduced the rate to 6.7.

The industry average has steadily fallen in the past year from a peak of 7.2 in March last year.

“It’s really great to see complaints across the board in the mobile category continue to drop over the last quarter too, showing that there’s more focus than ever before on the importance of customer service,” Heininger said.

Optus took on the mantle of most complained-about communications provider in March last year, taking over from Vodafone. As recently as the quarter to December 2014, the Ombudsman was fielding 10.5 complaints per 10,000 Vodafone services.