Complaints against Aussie telcos jump as NBN rollout gathers pace
Australians are unhappy with their broadband and they’re not afraid to speak up, with a 33 per cent leap in complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman as the National Broadband Network works to bed down new technologies. Most Australians have a telco horror story, having spent hours on hold fighting to sort flaky out broadband, horrendous billing errors and heavy-handed sales tactics. Sometimes it seems that telco call centre operators are trained to tell whatever lies are required to make you go away.
Australians aren’t afraid to pick up the phone and complain about their telcos.
Unhappy customers who can’t get satisfaction can take up their grievances with the TIO, and we clearly weren’t afraid to call them in the 2015/16 financial year. While complaints to the TIO cover broadband, mobile and landlines, the most complaints were reserved for broadband and they also saw the fastest growth – leaping 53 per cent in 12 months. Customer service, billing and payments, faults and complaint handling are the most common complaints to the TIO, which comes as little surprise if you’ve followed the trials and tribulations of the NBN rollout in recent times.
The vast majority of TIO complaints came from residential customers, with only 13 per cent coming from small businesses. Most of the growth in complaints came in the latter half of 2015, corresponding with the launch of NBN’s fibre to the node services which saw its fair share of teething problems. You can expect a similar leap when we see the figures for the first half of 2017, with the NBN HFC cable activation saga1 leaving hundreds of homes in limbo for months. It wasn’t helped by the fact that Telstra Wholesale has been refusing to cooperate with some telcos2 and restore ADSL services for customers waiting for their NBN connection to be fixed, with little progress in breaking the deadlock.
Complaints regarding NBN services jumped a whopping 117.5 per cent, again mostly in the latter half of 2015 as fibre to the node started to reach homes. In NBN’s defence, as complaints doubled so did the number of Australians connected to the new national network. Once you allow for this, complaints actually fell 30 per cent. Unfortunately the figures for NBN-related complaints don’t distinguish between complaints for which the NBN was to blame, such as activation delays, and complaints for which the retail telcos were to blame, such as billing stuff ups.
Pinning down the blame for slow NBN connections is particularly difficult when it’s hard to know exactly where the fault lies, although the consumer watchdog has received $7 million in this week’s Federal budget for its Broadband Performance Monitoring and Reporting Program. Meanwhile complaints from Australians unhappy with the state of their broadband will certainly continue. What’s your telco horror story?
What did it take to get it resolved?
- ^ NBN HFC cable activation saga (www.smh.com.au)
- ^ Telstra Wholesale has been refusing to cooperate with some telcos (www.smh.com.au)