Aussie NBN delays are causing record number of complaints, says TIO

Oh dear. Shortly after NBN Co released a statement promising that it’d focus on NBN customers who have been left behind, the beleaguered network has found itself under fire once again thanks to the annual report from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)... and boy is it grim.

There are plenty of overwhelming stats in the report when it comes to complaints about internet service, but the crux of it is that they’ve risen quite dramatically across the board. While the overall number of complaints to the Ombudsman regarding telecommunications has been declining steadily for the past five years (by roughly 14% each year), 2016-17 saw a spike of over 41%, most of which can be attributed to the NBN, which itself saw a 160% increase since last year.

Of the issues raised to the Ombudsman, customer service accounts for almost half of all complaints, and when it comes specifically to the NBN, these complaints were most often the result of delays in new internet connections or a completely unusable service.

Complaining about complaints

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has made its concerns about the new network known in a public statement, condemning the customer service performance of both internet providers and NBN Co itself, urging “all providers to lift their game and act to immediately improve customer services and the consumer experience”.

ACCAN has suggested the solution to this issue (other than NBN Co and providers getting their act together) is improved community safeguards around the expected performance of services and a much-needed revision to the Customer Service Guarantee (CSG), which hasn’t been updated to include internet connections at all.

In response to the figures, NBN Co has released its own statement that mostly dodges the accusation and (surprise, surprise) shifts some more blame onto the retail service providers, while simultaneously pointing out how difficult and large the project really is. 

CEO Bill Morrow said in the statement that less than 15% of the complaints to the TIO actually end up reaching NBN Co, but that the company is still taking the issue very seriously.