Telco ombudsman records 204 per cent growth in NBN-related complaints

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman received 22,827 complaints related to services delivered over the National Broadband Network in the second half of 2017, figures released today reveal.

The TIO said that NBN-complaints grew 203.9 per cent in the six-month period ending 31 December 2017, compared to the second half of 2016. Figures compiled by the ombudsman reveal 14,055 of those complaints related to service quality while 8757 related to delays in establishing a connection.

“Complaints about services delivered over the National Broadband Network continued to increase compared to the same six month period in 2016,” said Ombudsman Judi Jones.

“This indicates the consumer experience is still not meeting expectations for all. Recent changes to regulation and an increase in our powers to resolve complaints are positive steps that will help improve the consumer experience.”

NBN said that only 1052 of the complaints relating to services on the new network had been passed on to it to resolve. The company said that in the six months covered by the report the number of households and businesses with NBN services increased by 39 per cent.

The TIO complaints equated to only 0.67 per cent of premises with NBN services, the company said.

“While the slowdown in the rate of complaints is encouraging, NBN Co acknowledges there is still more work to be done, particularly at this critical stage of the rollout as we balance prioritising customer experience without taking our foot off the construction pedal,” NBN’s chief customer officer for residential, Brad Whitcomb, said in a statement.

“We will continue to work with industry to improve those parts of the customer’s end-to-end experience within our control to reduce complaint volumes.

“The second half of 2017 represented one of the most significant periods of the rollout in terms of prioritising the customer experience. Alongside retailers, our delivery partners and the wider industry, we established a number of company initiatives to improve the broadband experience for end users.”

The TIO figures do not represent all complaints related to Internet services, including NBN services mdash; the figures include only those where a complaint has been made to the ombudsman.

The government announced today that in response to the TIO figures it would introduce a range of new consumer safeguards.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commissionlast month revealed that it had seen a significant rise in NBN-related complaints during 2016-17.

Over the last six months, Australia’s biggest telcos have been forced to offer compensation to tens of thousands of their NBN customers who were sold services with unachievable speeds.

NBN earlier this month announced it would end a freeze on sales of hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) services. The company implemented the sales pause due to performance problems encountered by end users.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is currently consulting on theintroduction of new complaints-handling rulesfor telcos that offer services over the NBN.

The figures released by the TIO reveal that overall complaints about landline, mobile and Internet services grew by 28.7 per cent in the second half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.

The TIO received 84,914 complaints in the six month period ending 31 December 2017.

Beginning on 1 July last year the TIO changed how it records complaints. It now compiles its figures based on five different categories: Landline phone services, mobile phone services, Internet services, multiple services (where a complaint relates to more than one phone or internet issue), and complaints about damage or access to property.

The TIO said that 30.8 per cent of the complaints it received in the second half of 2017 related to multiple services, while 28 were about Internet services and 29.4 per cent about mobile services. Eleven per cent were about landline phone services and 0.8 per cent fell into the property category.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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