NBN complaints are up an astonishing 203.9% since last year

Alex Kidman 17 April 2018 NEWS

The latest TIO report shows that we're increasingly unhappy about NBN connections across Australia.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has released its latest half-year report into the nature and volume of complaints processed for the period between June and December 2017, and it makes for a grim picture of Australia's telecommunications sector.

The TIO processed 84,914 complaints in total, a rise of 28.7% over the same period in 2016, although it's actually a drop from the prior six month (January-June 2017) period. Consumers remain the primary complainants for TIO matters, with 74,729 complaints from residential consumers, a 30.7% jump from 2016.

In terms of complaint types for consumers (as distinct from small business complaints), Mobile phone services slightly edge out Internet services for complaints, although there's also a solid quantity of complaints about multiple services, which could encompass both.

TIO Consumer Complaint Types
Landline phone services 7,216
Mobile phone services 22,797
Internet services 22,017
Property 602
Multiple services 22,097

What we're being charged is a key concern, followed by provider responses and then the actual quality of the service we're getting:

TIO Consumer Complaint Issues
Charges and fees 34,013
Provider response 32,139
Poor service quality 17,055
Connection/changing provider 11,802
No service 10,769
Debt management 8,280
Making a contract 6,180
In contract 4,878
Equipment 2,632
Payments 2,252

Complaints relating to the National Broadband Network rose substantially, with a 203.9% rise in the number of complaints compared to the same period for 2016. In total, 22,827 complaints relating to NBN matters were received by the TIO. Of those, 14,055 were complaints about service quality, while 8,757 related to problems establishing an NBN connection.

The TIO's figures run in a fascinating way against the monthly report NBN Co put out just this week, which paints a rosier picture for the national network. While there is perhaps an inevitable rise in complaints as more Australians connect to the national network, once they're reaching the TIO they're already serious by definition.

On a state-by-state basis, New South Wales registered the most complaints numerically, but it's in Queensland and Western Australia that complaints volume rose most markedly:

TIO Complaints by state Number of complaints Increase
NSW 26914 27.9%
VIC 23954 30.5%
QLD 16418 39.3%
WA 7381 36.5%
SA 6552 22.7%
TAS 1614 33.1%
ACT 1184 11.0%
NT 504 20.0%

It's worth bearing in mind that a rise in complaints to the TIO represents some serious problems. You can't approach the TIO with a telecommunications issue until after you've attempted resolution with your existing provider, so the numbers here represent folks who have already gone down that path and still had to resort to using the TIO's processes.

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