AUSTRALIANS are becoming increasingly frustrated by their telecommunications services, if complaints to the industry Ombudsman are anything to go by, and the NBN is a leading source of that dissatisfaction.
Nationwide there were 158,016 complaints received by the Ombudsman, a 41 per cent increase on the previous financial year.
The National Broadband Network rollout has been the reason for more than 17 per cent of those, with 27,195 complaints pertaining to services delivered over the NBN.
That marked a 159.3 per cent increase on the 10,487 complaints received about the service in the previous financial year.
“While it is necessary to acknowledge the role of the national broadband network in driving significant change in Australian telecommunications, complaints have increased across the board,” Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Judi Jones said.
“Complaints about services delivered over the national broadband network have more than doubled.
“This includes an increase in complaints about connection delays and reliability issues such as faults.”
Ms Jones conceded her office had a busy 12 months, but said she was hopeful a concerted effort would lead to an improvement in NBN services.
“If the improvements aren’t made then we would expect complaints to continue to increase,” she said.
“I’m an optimist and I’m always hopeful that some of the work the industry is doing together to improve the customer experience will bear fruit.
“We’re certainly very busy.
“We’ve recruited a lot of staff over the past year.
“It’s our job to resolve complaints and we’re getting on and doing it.”
The NBN Co released a statement in response to the TIO’s findings.
“We acknowledge that the increase in complaints to the TIO about services delivered over the NBN access network in the 2016/17 financial year is regrettable,” it said.
“Overall TIO complaints about services delivered over the NBN network represent about one per cent of the number of activated premises.
“We are working with retail service providers and industry as a priority to improve these figures and the overall experience for consumers.
“There is a direct correlation between the speed of the rollout and the increase in complaints – while the business is taking this very seriously and working to improve the customer experience, it is an unfortunate reality of such a fast-paced infrastructure build.”
In WA, complaints to the Ombuidsman were up 49.1 per cent – with Mandurah, Armadale and Wanneroo leading the way – following the national trend.
After three consecutive years in which the number of complaints from WA fell, 2016/17 financial year saw a massive spike.
That put the total number of complaints from WA at 13,623 – 12,049 from residential customers.
Nearly a quarter of the complaints (3315) were about landline phone services, 4512 were about mobile phone services while 5796 were about internet.
Mandurah was the suburb with the most complaints, with 469, followed by Armadale with 393.
Ms Jones said there was no single reason for the spike, but rather dissatisfaction across the board.
“It doesn’t seem to be any single factor,” Ms Jones said.
“For WA it could be that more people have become aware of our service and are accessing it.
“There’s nothing that’s a standout issue.
“You look at landline, mobile, internet: all of those are up.”
The Top 10 suburbs for complaints in Perth:
Mandurah – 460
Armadale – 393
Wanneroo – 355
Clarkson – 333
Hamilton Hill – 332
Cannington – 311
Atwell – 253
Swan View – 228
Canning Vale – 226
Balga – 188
How many complaints per telco company nationwide:
Telstra – 76,650
Optus Group – 28,766
Vodafone Group – 10,684
iiNet – 10,170
TPG Group – 6995
Dodo – 3309
Southern Phone Company – 2068
Primus – 1917
M2 Commander – 1704
Virgin Mobile – 1354