NBN service complaints surge as rollout ramps up

NBN service complaints surge as rollout ramps up

Judi Jones from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman said the roll-out of the National Broadband Network had increased the number of issues the watchdog dealt with.

Overall, complaints about the NBN lodged with the industry Ombudsman more than doubled over the past year - increasing almost 160%, jumping from 10,487 in 2015/16 to 27,195 in the most recent financial year. Completely unusable internet and landline services were the next most popular themes, while slow data speed attracted close to 4,000 complaints.

To solve the problem many people get frustrated and simply jump ship to another provider, and sufferer the cancellation fees, but CHOICE says there are things you can do first.

"Overall TIO complaints about services delivered over the NBN network represent about one per cent of the number of activated premises".

Complaints about internet services, however, were up 65 percent.

Following the end of the financial year, Australian consumer watchdog ACCC in July announced it was investigating "some" of the big four telecommunications service providers over allegedly "misleading" NBN internet speed claims.

Complaints also rose across smaller providers and MVNOs: Dodo complaints rose by 1.1 percent to 3,309, 726 of which were about the NBN; Southern Phone Company complaints rose by 266.7 percent to 2,068 in total, 865 of which were about the NBN; Primus complaints rose by 32.1 percent to 1,917, 300 of which were about the NBN; complaints about M2 Commander rose by 25.3 percent to 1,704, 259 of which were about the NBN.

People were most likely to whinge about their internet service (42.6 per cent), followed by mobile phone services (33.1 per cent) and landline phone services (24.3 per cent).

"We acknowledge that the increase in complaints to the TIO about services delivered over the NBN access network in the 2016/17 financial year is regrettable", the company stated.

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.

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Optus received 28,766 complaints while Vodafone received 10,684 - a dramatic drop since receiving more than 40,000 complaints in 2012-13.

Telstra received the most complaints across Australia, with 76,650 lodged in 2016-17, compared to 53,425 in 2015-16.

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

Australians made 27,195 complaints about these services (of 158,016 made during the year).

NBN's response to the TIO has been, as per usual, to shift blame from itself to the ISPs delivering retail services to customers.

So what hope is there if you're the person stuck with the garbage internet connection that goes full potato every time you try and stream a TV show?

"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.

"It is pleasing that these latest Complaints in Context results appear to indicate that these efforts are beginning to bear fruit", Stanton added.

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

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