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NBN-related complaints to TIO jump by 200%

17 April 2018

The TIO is clearly aware of that, as in its previous six-monthly update it observed that "The rate of increase in these complaints is slower than the rate of new premises connected to the national broadband network".

For the half-year, the TIO received a total of 84,914 complaints from Aussie households and businesses.

"The telecommunications industry in Australia continues to experience significant change".

"Our recording of the issues is now based on six broad categories that follow the lifecycle of a residential consumer or small business' relationship with their provider", Ombudsman Judi Jones said.

According to the TIO's half-yearly report for 2017-18, this tripling in complaints numbers is "not surprising", as NBN is increasingly responsible for delivering fixed-line services.

However, Jones added that "consumers still seem to be facing the same problems" in regards to customer service and bills.

She added that wider issues relating to phone or internet problems such as debt management are "concerning".

While the complaints by small businesses and the total complaints are down from the first half of 2017, the TIO points out that complaints activity is seasonal, so similar-period comparisons are more appropriate. The remaining 238 came from not for profit organisations.

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"The changes mean our data will more accurately reflect the description of complaints given by residential consumers and small businesses".

Overall complaints rose 28.7 per cent on the same period in 2016, with multiple services contributing the bulk (30.8%), followed by mobile services (29.4%) and internet services (28%). They accounted for 30.8% of complaints.

Only 11.1% of complaints related to landlines, and 0.8% to property damage or access.

NBN Co has also recently been restructuring its pricing plan it sells to internet service providers to make it cheaper to buy more capacity to ensure that there is enough bandwidth for customers during peak periods.

"With "provider response" being the top issue raised by customers who complain in relation to a service delivered over the NBN, our industry will be working to improve the end-to-end experience, including through improved assistance between providers in the supply chain to resolve complaints", Gillespie-Jones said.

Due to the way it has changed its complaints recording process as of July a year ago, the TIO also said it is "not possible to compare complaints at the service type and issue levels with previous reports". Indeed, this writer's experience is that it is practically impossible to have complaints handled by someone who can actually deal with the issue - as opposed to merely reciting a script that doesn't cover the exact situation - unless you take the matter to the TIO.

The biggest gripe? Provider response, suggesting that ISPs are being a little coy when it comes to helping once they've got you on your contract but poor service quality sits in second place with nearly 40 percent of complaints showing the NBN itself still has a ways to go before it can claim it is delivering the internet that Australians are clamouring for.

The TIO's July-December 2017 Six Month Update should be available for download here.

NBN-related complaints to TIO jump by 200%