Published: Wed, October 18, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

NBN complaints more than double in a year

NBN complaints more than double in a year

Oh dear. Shortly after NBN Co released a statement promising that it'd focus on NBN customers who have been left behind, the beleaguered network has found itself under fire once again thanks to the annual report from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). and boy is it grim.

Complaints were mostly about connection delays and services being degraded or "unusable".

Across WA, customer service issues made up almost half of all complaints, while billing and payment (44.1 per cent) and faults (33.6 per cent) were also major concerns.

The National Broadband Network rollout has been the reason for more than 17 per cent of those, with 27,195 complaints pertaining to services delivered over the NBN.

"This work is being reflected in a 13.6 percent decline in overall TIO complaints between July to September 2017 and a 26.3 percent decline in TIO complaints about landline and internet services over the same period".

The sharp rise in NBN complaints came against a backdrop of a rise in overall complaints about telecommunications services lodged with the TIO - the first increase in four years. Retail and wholesale providers must lift their game and coordinate better together - customers and end-users can not be expected to troubleshoot a faulty service, or project-manage a connection attempt.

It was residential customers who bore the brunt of the problems with the NBN with 88% of complaints coming from this customer group.

Consumers aren't the only source of complaints, with the TIO report showing that small business complaints grew 31.3% year on year to 18,789, driven largely by complaints related to internet and landline services.

There were 16,221 fault complaints from 2.44 million NBN users in the last financial year, a 159% increase in gripes from the 2015/16 year.

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"This includes an increase in complaints about connection delays and reliability issues such as faults".

Telstra and Vodafone saw 8.7 and 4.3 complaints per 10,000 SIO respectively.

About 90 per cent of grievances were from residential consumers, while nearly 12 per cent came from small businesses.

In response, NBN called the increase in complaints "unfortunate", but said there is a "direct correlation" between the pace of the rollout and the rise in complaints.

"Complaints about services delivered over the national broadband network have more than doubled".

"The industry is dealing with significant disruption that has been hard for some customers and has generated worrying increases in complaint levels during the past 12 months following four years of continuous reduction in complaints", Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton said.

"We are working with retail service providers and industry as a priority to improve these figures and the overall experience for consumers".

Dr Brooks concludes: "Internet Australia notes the recent round-table meeting held between government, NBN and some of the larger providers to address systemic NBN migration problems is a belated step in the right direction, but far too late to help large numbers of customers during this peak migration period, as any improvements in processes will take significant time to become effective".

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