Recent Optus outage caused surge in complaints, but new report suggests other telcos aren’t faring well either

Angry man shouting at mobile phone while sitting at a desk
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Aussies submitted an increase in telco complaints in the final quarter of 2023 according to the latest report by Australia’s Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). But, while Optus’ network outage was partially responsible, it doesn’t paint the full picture of Australia’s telco landscape.

A total of 14,671 complaints were made between October and December 2023, a 13.4% increase over the previous quarter. However, compared to the same period in 2022, this figure represents a 17.9% decrease.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Optus bore most of the brunt, with 919 complaints from customers who were directly affected by the Optus network outage which occurred on November 8. Customers who did complain did so in the hope of receiving credit towards their bills, a refunded or discounted service, some form of financial compensation or the ability to exit their contract early.

Some also just wanted an apology from Australia’s second-largest telco and while it did “apologise for any inconvenience caused,” in a post on X, formerly Twitter, many customers – along with the Federal government – said there was far too little communication throughout the day. The 919 complaints against Optus were in addition to other general complaints relating to network outages or no internet or phone service.

Optus receives most mobile complaints, but Telstra’s internet falls foul of expectation

2023 wasn’t a great year for Optus, as the TIO’s Q3 2023 report revealed the telco was lashed with a further 3,195 complaints for the January to March 2023 quarter, in relation to the data breach in 2022 which affected millions of Optus customers.

However, Optus isn’t alone in succumbing to consumer backlash. While it did expectedly receive complaints relating to its network outage, of all complaints made in Q2 2024, 31.4% were made against Optus – a 43.1% increase over Q1 2024.

But Australia’s largest telco, Telstra, received just over one-third of all complaints made – 5,394 compared to 4,612 against Optus. Complaints against Telstra also represented an increase over Q1, although a much smaller one at just under 1.4%. 

Of those complaints against Telstra, 2,255 related to mobile and 1,810 related to internet services. By comparison, Optus received 2,712 and 1,284 for the same categories.

Indeed, Optus does – according to data published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) – have a good track record when it comes to its NBN service. The telco regularly surpasses advertised plan speeds and, if it does suffer outages during monitoring periods, they’re usually swiftly resolved. Ultimately, based on data published by the TIO, neither Optus nor Australia’s gold star carrier Telstra, are immune from poor service. 

If you’re among those feeling frustrated by Optus’ mobile service, we have a guide to the best SIM-only plans that is packed with alternative recommendations for you. For a quick look at some more affordable options, see the comparison widget below.

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Max Langridge
Staff Writer

Max is a digital content writer for TechRadar, covering home entertainment and audio, phones, laptops, gaming and virtually anything else that falls under the consumer electronics umbrella. Hailing from the United Kingdom, Max spent a combined five years writing for What Hi-Fi? and Pocket-lint, before moving to Australia in 2018. After a brief stint writing for men’s lifestyle publications, Max is back to working on his first passion of technology.

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