While complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) were up marginally for the year, they began dropping in the final quarter including across the National Broadband Network (NBN), the 2018 annual report has revealed.
Complaints increased by 6.2 percent year on year, but dropped by 17.8 percent quarter on quarter in Q4.
“I am pleased to report that the number of complaints about telecommunications services in Australia appear to be turning the corner, with complaints trending down in the latter part of the year,” Ombudsman Judi Jones said on Wednesday.
The decrease in complaints follows government action after NBN complaints previously tripled, Jones added, pointing to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s speed monitoring reports and repercussions for retailers not delivering on their speed promises, with Telstra, Optus, TPG, iiNet, Internode, Dodo, iPrimus, and Commander all having been forced to compensate tens of thousands of customers.
The TIO also attributed the complaints drop to Communications Minister Mitch Fifield’s roundtable with NBN and retailers; the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)’s new migration rules; NBN’s wholesale pricing changes; and the TIO’s own complaints-handling changes.
“I have consistently said the increase in complaints to my office over the last two years has not solely been driven by the rollout of the National Broadband Network,” Jones added.
“Complaints had increased in all service types, and it is pleasing to see complaints have started to decline across the board. Our new Responsive Complaints Service (commencing on 1 July 2018) is more flexible, is designed to get to the heart of each complaint more quickly, and focuses on resolution.”
For the year to June 30, the TIO received 167,831 complaints in total, with 146,958 from consumers and 20,433 from small business.
Mobile phone services made up 51,328 complaints; multiple services accounted for 49,875 complaints; internet services caused 46,703 complaints; landline phone services 18,736 complaints; and property 1,189 complaints.
For complaint types, customer service made up the most complaints, at 40 percent overall, followed by payment for a service at 36 percent; service delivery at 31 percent; establishing a service at 20.5 percent; and property at 1 percent.
Of all complaints about service quality, 47 percent were about services being delivered over the NBN, at 27,008 complaints; and of all connection and changing provider complaints, 58 percent were about NBN services, at 14,589.
However, these both dropped during the second half of the financial year despite more premises being activated, the TIO said.
Connection or changing provider complaints numbered 8,711 in July to December 2017, or 9.2 per thousand premises added to the NBN, and numbered 5,878 or nine per thousand premises added to the NBN for January to June 2018.
Service quality complaints dropped from 14,000 or 4.1 per thousand premises on the network from July to December 2017 down to 13,008 or 3.2 per thousand premises on the network from January to June 2018.
MyRepublic saw the steepest rise in complaints, up 102 percent from last year to 1,816 complaints to the Ombudsman during FY18. It was followed by Optus including Virgin Mobile, which saw complaints jump by 35 percent to 40,665; and Telstra, up by 7.7 percent during the year for a total of 82,528 complaints.
Southern Phone experienced the biggest decrease in complaints, down 28 percent to 1,484, followed by iiNet, which was down 24 percent to 7,719; TPG, down 11 percent to 6,248; Vodafone Australia, down 8.7 percent to 9,752; M2 Commander, down 8.2 percent to 1,565; and Dodo, down 5.7 percent to 3,120 complaints to the Ombudsman during FY18.
Primus remained relatively stagnant, up 0.1 percent to 1,918 complaints for the financial year.
Across the states, New South Wales clocked the most complaints, up 5 percent from last year to 52,989 complaints; Victoria was up 9 percent to 47,620 complaints; Queensland was up 13 percent to 32,820 complaints; Western Australia was up 11 percent to 15,075 complaints; South Australia was up 1 percent to 12,667 complaints; Tasmania was up 0.7 percent to 2,986 complaints; the Australian Capital Territory was down 5.6 percent to 2,466 complaints; and the Northern Territory was down 0.1 percent to 1,042 complaints.
Overall, the TIO commenced 17,236 conciliations during the year, with 88 percent of online complaints processed the same day; 52 possible systemic issues notified to providers; and 30 systemic matters resulting in the retailer agreeing to or making changes to their systems and processes.
While acknowledging the slight improvement in Q4, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) said it is “frustrated” with the TIO complaints increase.
“Although the last quarter has shown improvement, this is the third year in a row that the complaint numbers have climbed,” ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin said.
“It is time to draw a line in the sand — consumers deserve better from their telco providers.”
Recent NBN Coverage
2022 Honda Passport is hitting the rally circuit
The 2022 Honda Passport is hitting the rally circuit as the Japanese automaker fortifies its motorsports pedigree. And similar to the Honda HPD Ridgeline that competed at the recently concluded Rebelle Rally, the Passport is going rallying with a team of Honda engineers led by suspension test engineer and driver Chris Sladek and chassis design engineer and co-driver Gabriel Nieves. Both men are from Honda’s North American Auto Development Center in East Liberty, Ohio.
Honda recently debuted its redesigned 2022 Passport five-seat crossover SUV, which now gets a more rugged TrailSport variant with chunkier aesthetics, 18-inch wheels, and 8.1-inches of ground clearance. However, the rally version is the brainchild of the Honda Performance Development (HPD) Maxxis Rally racing team. It has 17-inch BRAID Winrace T rally wheels, Maxxis RAZR M/T or RAZR A/T tires, rear differential skid plates, and an aluminum oil pan cover to protect vital underpinnings from impacts and bumps.
Other changes include protective high-density polyethylene panels on the fuel tank, Carbotech XP12 brake pads, and racing-bred brake fluid to offer reliable stopping power. It also has OMP racing seats with six-point competition harnesses, a roll cage, a rally computer, and a fire suppression system. Of course, it gets distinctive exterior livery courtesy of HPD.
The Passport rally car is also lighter than stock with Lexan polycarbonate rear glass and deleted rear seats. Other changes like a hydraulic handbrake are mandatory, while the modified exhaust offers a louder exhaust sound while reducing engine backpressure to improve performance.
Meanwhile, there are no changes under the hood. The 2022 Honda Passport rally car is hitting the rally circuits with a stock 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6 engine, a nine-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters, and i-VTM4 all-wheel-drive system. “The fact that we didn’t make any modifications to the 2022 Honda Passport’s drivetrain or suspension for such punishing terrain and competition speaks volumes to the capability and performance that comes standard in the Passport,” said driver Chris Sladek.
Honda’s Passport rally truck made its racing debut at the Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR) in Michigan last October 15 to 16. The team finished 22nd out of 42 regional competitors while placing 4th out of six in the Limited 4WD class. The Passport will see more action throughout the 2022 American Rally Association (ARA) series.
The 2022 Honda Civic Si aims right for the sweet-spot
Honda promised something hotter from the 11th Gen Civic line, and the 2022 Civic Si is just that. Taking the well-received Civic Sedan, and then pumping in some extra performance, it should bridge the gap between now and the new Civic Type R expected to launch sometime next year – and be more affordable than that car, too.
It’s got some solid underpinnings to start from, with both the Civic Sedan and the Civic Hatchback getting praise for their handling and poise. This new Civic Si, meanwhile, upgrades Honda’s turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder VTEC engine, and then pairs it with a 6-speed manual transmission.
The engine is good for 200 horsepower arriving at 6,000 rpm, with a 6,500 rpm redline. Torque is 192 lb-ft, now arriving between 1,800 and 5,000 rpm; that, Honda points out, is 300 rpm sooner than the outgoing car. The broader power curve and a lighter flywheel should make for a car that responds more rapidly, the automaker promises.
As for the transmission, it’s an improved 6-speed manual with the rev-matching system from the Civic Type R. The result, Honda says, is a better feel and 10-percent shorter throws. You’ll have to like it, mind, since Honda won’t be offering the 2022 Civic Si with an automatic option. Fuel economy comes in at 27 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the highway, and 31 mpg combined.
A helical limited-slip front differential is standard, along with a new Active Sound Control system which boosts the natural engine noise in the cabin. Honda insists it’ll add to, rather than detract from, the overall driving experience. Bigger brakes have been fitted, with 12.3-inch front rotors growing a whole 1.2-inches over the standard Civic Sedan, while the rear rotors grow almost an inch to 11.1-inches total. 235/40R18 all-season performance rubber is standard, with summer tires a factory option.
As with the Sedan and Hatchback, the new Si benefits from the 11th Gen Civic’s stiffer body and longer wheelbase. Honda then adds 8-percent stiffer front springs and 54-percent stiffer rear springs, together with new dampers, reinforced upper front MacPherson struts for better cornering, and thicker front and rear stabilizer bars to cut body roll. The Type R donates compliance bushings, upper arms, and lower B-arms, while steering gets an upgrade courtesy of a stiffer torsion bar.
There are still Normal and Sport drive modes, but an Individual mode has been added. That allows the driver to choose their mix of engine response, steering weight, and instrumentation theme settings.
Outside, there’s a new upper front bumper, a reworked rear bumper with twin oval exhaust tips, a front spoiler, and a gloss black rear spoiler. More gloss black appears on the mirrors and window surrounds, and Honda makes LED lighting front and rear standard, too. 18-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels – in an Si-specific matte black – are standard, too, and the Blazing Orange Pearl paint is exclusive to the car as well.
Inside, Si-exclusive sport seats with integrated head restraints and more shoulder and lower thigh support are included, along with sport pedals and red contrast stitching. The honeycomb dash panel is carried over, but with red trim now. A 7-inch driver display and 9-inch infotainment touchscreen are standard, with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Honda also adds the 12-speaker Bose audio system, and Honda Sensing is standard, too.
Pricing will be confirmed closer to the 2022 Civic Si’s arrival in dealerships later in 2021.
Toyota Tacozilla inspired by 1970s Chinook campervans to debut at SEMA
We bet you haven’t heard of the Toyota Chinook campervan, but we’re pretty sure you’ll be looking forward to Toyota’s Tacozilla campervan concept at this year’s SEMA show in November. The Toyota Chinook is a collaboration between the Japanese automaker and American wagon maker Chinook RV. The first Toyota Chinooks entered the market in 1973 and were essentially motorhomes with a pop-up roof built on a long-wheelbase Toyota half-ton truck chassis.
And since it’s a Toyota, Chinook campervans have the same bulletproof reliability as Toyota trucks. The folks at Toyota’s motorsports tech center in Texas created Tacozilla with the Chinook in mind, but it now has a more contemporary design to cope with seriously rugged terrain.
Starting with a Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport manual, the team conceptualized a bed-mounted micro-house with a cab-over design and a stubby rear end to lessen the approach and departure angles, making it effortless to find a suitable camping spot in the wild outdoors. According to project manager Marty Schwerter, Tacozilla will be sleeker, more aerodynamic, and more fuel-efficient than any Toyota Chinook before it, not to mention more off-road capable than ever before.
Toyota claims the camper is tall enough for a six-foot two-inch person to stand while cooking meals in the built-in kitchenette. The home quarters will also have a table, a standard toilet, and a two-person bed. Tacozilla will also come in a unique retro-inspired red, white, and orange livery as those vintage Chinook campervans. “Racecars are cool looking,” added Schwerter. “I want campers to be cool looking, too.”
And while the old Chinooks were motivated by Toyota’s 18R motor, Tacozilla will have a standard 3.5-liter V6 engine with 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. The initial rendering also features unique off-road wheels and chunkier Cooper Discoverer all-terrain tires.
Unlike other concepts, the Toyota Tacozilla is as real as it gets. The automaker is working overtime in finishing the prototype just in time for the 2021 SEMA Show this November 2 to 5, 2021. The question is, can we expect Tacozillas at Toyota dealerships soon? If Toyota did it in the early 1970s, we could see no reason it won’t be doing it again. But will Tacozilla be as cool as those retrolicious Chinook camper vans? We’ll have to wait for SEMA to find out.
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