iiNet, NBN complaints surge while Vodafone and Telstra see reprieve

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iiNet, NBN complaints surge while Vodafone and Telstra see reprieve

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has identified a "significant" rise in the number of complaints regarding NBN and internet services, while the number of new complaints around mobile services dropped by almost 30 percent.

New complaints levelled at iiNet rose by 48.2 percent, while it's parent company, TPG, saw a 7.4 percent increase.

Telstra complaints were down 3.2 percent and the number of Vodafone complaints shrunk by 59.5 per cent, compared to last year. Complaints about Optus rose 18.2 percent, lifted by an increase in grieveances about its landline and internet services.

Looking at the data across all the services surveyed, which included 112,518 new complaints, billing and payments, customer service, faults, complaint handling and contracts were the most common sources of criticism.

“We saw nearly a 100 percent increase in the number of NBN related complaints this year, but the rate of growth is lower than the growth of active services” said Ombudsman Judi Jones. “Delays in connections to the network, faults including unusable services, and dropout of services were regularly reported, which is of concern.”

New complaints about faults on NBN services rose by 147.8 per cent, while complaints about NBN connections rose by 63.2 percent. Complaints about NBN now represent almost 12 percent of all new complaints to the TIO.

In the first quarter of 2016, the ombudsman recieved more complaints about slow internet speeds than any other issue. A point that saw the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission seek submissions on how to improve transparency in the broadband industry in July. 

More than a quarter of new complaints to the TIO came from regional and rural Australia. A six percent rise on the number filed from regional areas on the previous year.

A change in the services customers complained about was also noted, with 22 percent more customers complaining about internet issues than in previous years. 

“Consumers told us that slow data speed was the biggest problem with internet services,” said Jones. “New complaints about internet data speed increased by 48 per cent.

“Consumers also made an increased number of complaints about long waits for connections and repairing unreliable services.There was a 28.8 per cent decrease in the number of new complaints about mobiles, to the lowest level in nine years. Complaints about problem areas such as coverage, excess  data and roaming charges all decreased.

Jones believes the drop in complaints about mobile services reduced due investment from the telcos into mobile infrastructure and the offering of higher data allowances.

According to the ombudsman, most new complaints came from customers living in major cities. Victorian customers were the most disgruntled, followed closely behind by South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, respectively.

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