Internet complaints skyrocket

Complaints about landline phones, mobile phones and internet services increased by 41.1 per cent in the past financial year.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s (TIO) 2016/17 Annual Report published today also showed that complaints about internet services are now higher than complaints about mobile phones, the first time they have been the highest source of complaints.

This was largely due to the rollout of the national broadband network (NBN), which saw complaints more than double over the previous financial year.

Delays to connections were the main cause for NBN complaints, followed by internet and landline faults for services delivered over the network.

TIO Ombudsman Judi Jones said the issues surrounding the NBN rollout were “a cause for concern”.

“The national broadband network project is complex, and it is important all parties involved work together to ensure a great consumer experience,” Ms Jones said.

Ms Jones also said the report shows that Australian consumers still have too many complaints about their customer service, billing or faults.

“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,” Ms Jones said.

The total number of complaints received by the TIO in the past financial year was 158,016, the highest level of complaints since 2012/13.

Customer service, billing and payments, faults and complaint handling were the most common complaints about phone and internet services.

Complaints recorded about internet services increased by 64.8 per cent over the previous year, compared with more moderate increases in complaints for landline phones (30.1 per cent) and mobile phones (27.5 per cent).

In 2016/17, South Australia recorded the highest growth in complaints, an increase of 51 per cent, followed by Western Australia with 49.1 per cent. The Northern Territory recorded the smallest increase in complaints (29.7 per cent).

Of the top 10 phone and internet service providers, Virgin Mobile was the only carrier to record a decrease in the number of complaints (11.6 per cent).

Opinion: NBN failures show Ombudsman needs more power

The sky-rocketing level of complaints to the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (TIO) highlight the massive failings of the current NBN rollout.

I made a complaint to the TIO last month concerning the inability of the NBN Co or my service provider to properly connect me to the network and have yet to have the issue resolved.

Constant reports about problems with connections and speeds once the service is installed, suggest that I am not alone.

The TIO has been recording and reporting complaints about services delivered over the NBN since 2013/14. Complaints about landline phones and internet services delivered over the network have grown consistently since that time.

The most recent figures show 27,195 complaints were recorded about services delivered over the NBN, a year-on-year increase of 159.3 per cent.

Earlier this month, we reported on the parliamentary committee calling for an overhaul of how the NBN is policed, and these latest figures support the call for change.

It recommended new regulations be introduced, so NBN Co would be bound to “service connection and fault repair timeframes” achieve “minimum network performance and reliability” and provide “compensation” for customers when such benchmarks are not met.

This is a good starting point, but the TIO should also be able to compel NBN Co to resolve internet problems when it is responsible for the outage.

What do you think? Have you had cause to register a complaint with the TIO? Were you happy with the resolution? Do you think the Ombudsman should have greater powers?

Written by Ben

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