There are plenty of horror stories from people whose connection to the NBN has gone pear-shaped. Some of the worst case scenarios include having an NBN connection incorrectly provisioned and old connections disabled, leaving people with no internet and no phone line. When that happens - what can you do?
What to do before switching
Before deciding to switch to the NBN, pop over to Speedtest.net and check your current connection speed and keep records. That way, if there's a problem later, you have some data to compare it with.
You should test at different times of the day but pay particular attention to 7pm-1pm which are the peak usage periods. (You cam see a breakdown of NBN 100 plans with the fastest evening speeds below.)
Don't rush to the NBN
Just because the NBN trucks are in your street and the connection is available doesn't mean you need to choose a Retail Service Provider (RSP) and switch your connection over immediately. Once the NBN is available, you have 18 months before you have to shift to the new network.
Many Australians risk losing their phone and internet access in 2017, with their home services cut off if they fail to switch to the National Broadband Network service available in their area. The shutdown date is looming for almost 350,000 Australian homes and businesses. Here's what you need to know.
You'll see lots of "special" offers to move on day one. If you're happy with your current service - wait. Check out local Facebook groups, Whirlpool forums and other places seeking specific information about what's happening in your area.
There will be lots of people telling you about their experience. Make sure you know what sort of connections they have so you can assess whether their advice and experience applies to you.
Keep detailed notes
When you're told your NBN connection is available, keep a detailed log of all the interactions you have. If you're promised an installation date, level of performance, pricing information or anything else of importance, make a record of when you spoke, emailed or messaged the other party, what was discussed, how long the call took and what was agreed.
When you do that, if possible, confirm the outcomes of the discussion with the other party and ask them if the call is being recorded.
If something goes wrong, all that information can be very useful in resolving any disputes.
Your first port of call
If something does go wrong with your NBN connection - you suffer a performance degradation or some other problem - your first port of call is your RSP.
NBN Co is a wholesaler and does not have a direct relationship with end-users. Even if NBN Co's technicians cause the problem, it's up to the RSP to negotiate on your behalf too resolve the issue.
There are escalation processes if the RSP can't help you, through the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) for example, but they won't get involved until you've given the RSP a reasonable chance to solve the problem.
Any communications you have with the RSP need to be recorded. Take notes of when you called, the time taken on the phone, what promises or assurances were given, the name of the customer service agent you spoke with and anything else you think might be relevant.
Even though this process may be frustrating and time-consuming, remain calm and polite at all times. But also be firm.
If you have to escalate a complaint
There's a lot of advice out there about who to call if you have a problem.
If you get nowhere with your RSP, you can complain directly to NBN Co. But the list of things they will help with is pretty thin.
The main way to get a matter resolved when your RSP is unable or unwilling to fix things is through the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). Often, simply threatening to take this step will galvanise your RSP into a quicker response - it shows you're aware of your consumer rights and know precisely who to contact.
But if you're still getting nowhere, it's time to follow through and take action. The TIO complaint process, in my experience, works well. Assuming the TIO believes your complaint is valid and that you have made a reasonable effort to resolve it with the RSP, they will provide you with a reference number and inform the RSP that the matter has been escalated to them.
You can also call the TIO on 1800 062 058 and lodge your complaint that way.
The TIO will ask for that record of communications you kept through the process. This is why keeping good records is important.
It's important to understand that even if the problem is caused by NBN Co or its contractors, the RSP's obligation is to act on your behalf to solve the problem.