In the 12 months from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017, complaints about services delivered over the National Broadband Network grew by 159.3 per cent compared to the previous 12 months, new figures released by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) reveal.
In total the TIO received 27,195 individual complaints about services delivered over the NBN in the 12-month period.
The TIO’s annual report revealed it received 16,221 complaints relating to NBN faults — 6.7 complaints per 1000 activated premises on the network. It also received 11,224 complaints about delays in connecting to the new network, representing 8.3 complaints per 1000 premises activated.
The figures only include those where a consumer or small business has lodged a formal complaint with the TIO and include both cases lodged against NBN and against retail service providers (RSPs) that offer services over the network.
The top issue was delays in connecting to a new Internet service on the network, followed by consumers indicating they had a fully unusable Internet service. The other major sources of NBN complaints were having a fully unusable landline service, new landline connection delay, and slow Internet speeds.
Responding to the figures, NBN said that it acknowledged the increase in complaints and that it indicated a need for an industry-wide push to improve customer experience as the network rollout reaches its peak.
“While it is fewer than 15 per cent of the ‘NBN’ complaints to the TIO that are directed to NBN Co, this equates to about 1 per cent of the number of activated premises that we are not making the experience the best it can be and we are taking this very seriously,” the company’s CEO, Bill Morrow, said in a statement.
“We are working with retail service providers and industry as a priority to improve these figures and the overall experience for consumers. We meet regularly and have programs in place, some in isolation to deal with company-specific improvements, and others in collaboration to ensure end-to-end process are the best they can be.”
“This work is being reflected in a 13.6 per cent decline in overall TIO complaints between July to September 2017 and a 26.3 per cent decline in TIO complaints about landline and Internet services over the same period,” Morrow said. “We believe it is an early sign of movement in the right direction.”
Overall, during the FY17 financial year, the TIO received 158,016 complaints from consumers and small businesses, representing a year on year increase of 41.1 per cent.
“The picture the complaints show is we are frustrated when we cannot rely on technology to stay connected, to be informed, and to do business,” Ombudsman Judi Jones said.
“Sharing high quality videos immediately, holding an online meeting or watching Netflix on the way home, is now the norm and part of our daily routine.”
“For the first time, complaints about internet services are now higher than complaints about mobile phones,” Jones said.
“Residential consumers and small businesses still have too many complaints about their customer service, a bill or faults. Complaints about services delivered over the national broadband network more than doubled, and while this is somewhat to be expected given the accelerating rollout, the increase is a cause for concern.”
The ombudsman said that the NBN project is “complex” and that it is “important all parties involved work together to ensure a great consumer experience.”