???Error-ridden process': The biggest customer complaint telcos face

Getting connected to broadband when moving house is an error-ridden process that should be made as simple as sorting out electricity, the telco ombudsman says.

While most customer complaints are about bills, there is significant room for internet providers to improve by simply making it easier to connect when relocating, Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) Judi Jones told Fairfax Media.

Some small businesses have had significant problems when getting onto the NBN as they move location, sometimes facing a period of time without internet as they struggle to connect.

Yet the issue affects customers across all forms of internet connection, Ms Jones said, describing a case of a residential customer using a traditional ADSL service who moved apartment and struggled to reconnect.

"Their electricity and gas transfer was seamless, but transferring their broadband was a difficult, protracted and error-ridden process," she said.

"It needs to be made as simple as switching energy provider."

Most electricity providers offer between two days and next-day connection, provided a new meter is not required, and often offer rebates if this does not happen.

For telcos, indicated timelines can be up to 20 working days to reconnect new phone bundles and ADSL connections when moving, though some offer next-day connection for existing customers in some circumstances.

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In the TIO's latest report, nine out of 10 complaints were residential, with the rest predominantly from small business. This figure could grow as the ombudsman pushes on with an awareness campaign targeting small businesses over 2018.

Of all the complaints, typically about 15 per cent were due to services over the NBN - a figure Ms Jones said would "grow as the NBN roll out continues".

"The main issues and complaints haven't changed, the top problem people have is still with bills. Then it's faults and contract issues," she said.

There is some good news - in the last five years complaints have declined 43 per cent.

This is largely due to eradicating ???bill shock', where a mobile phone user receives a much higher bill than anticipated - a common media story five years ago, with studies finding half of phone users had experienced this.

This led to the government requiring telcos to provide alerts when data caps were being reached.

"Providers' plans better match our technology requirements now," she said, as another reason these complaints have decreased.

This includes cheaper data, and the opportunity to pay for a plan with unlimited calls and text messaging.

Despite this, complaints to the TIO climbed from 8.3 to 8.7 complaints per 10,000 services for the three months to December 2017, data from Communications Alliance shows.

Communications Alliance chief executive John Stanton said this was a sign of "ongoing challenges the industry is facing".

This data is based on six telcos which participate on a voluntary basis, with more comprehensive information due from the ombudsman in April.

While it marks an increase over the previous quarter, it remains below a high of nine complaints per 10,000 in the June 2017 quarter data.

This story ???Error-ridden process': The biggest customer complaint telcos face first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.