NBN service complaints surge as rollout ramps up

Andrew Cummings
October 18, 2017

The TIO said an increase was somewhat expected given the accelerated rollout of the network, but an increase of more than double the number of complaints from a year ago was cause for concern.

The TIO's annual report, released this morning, shows NBN complaints leapt from 10,487 in 2015/16 to 27,195 in the financial year ended June 30 - an increase of nearly 160 percent.

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Judi Jones said it was the first time internet complaints had over taken mobile phone issues, due partly to teething issues with the national broadband network. The TIO did not say how many NBN service complaints were related to each provider.

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. As of June 2017, there were 5.7 million premises ready for service, with 2.4 million activated.

Mandurah has topped the State's list of telecommunications complaints in a new report out today by the industry's watchdog.

NBN Co said fewer than 15 percent of complaints about the NBN were directed towards the company, rather than retail service providers delivering service on the network.

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

Mobile services accounted for 33 percent of complaints, while landline services account for 26.5 percent.

There were 13,623 complaints made in WA during 2016-17, which showed a 31.3 per cent increase from the previous financial year.

ACCAN has suggested the solution to this issue (other than NBN Co and providers getting their act together) is improved community safeguards around the expected performance of services and a much-needed revision to the Customer Service Guarantee (CSG), which hasn't been updated to include internet connections at all.

Nationally, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman received on average 1200 calls or emails a day from people and businesses complaining about their telco provider.

iiNet also saw its complaints jump by 79%.

· Telstra received 76,650 complaints, a year on year increase of 43.5 per cent.

Optus, Amaysim, and Pivotel complaints all rose during the quarter, however, from 10.1 to 10.3, 1 to 1.5, and 0.3 to 0.8 per 10,000 SIO, respectively.

According to the TIO and Communications Alliance Complaints in Context report for the July-September period published on Tuesday, however, Telstra and Vodafone reduced their complaints over the most recent quarter.

Overall, internet complaints increased by 64 per cent, with a 30 per cent rise in both landline and mobile phone problems.

"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", he said.

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

Last week, the Australian government set a meeting with senior personnel from the NBN Co & ISPs to consider resolutions for the NBN Co's customer service issues.

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