Overall satisfaction with internet service providers (ISPs) has dropped in our latest member survey. 68 percent of members rated their ISP’s performance “good” or “very good”. That’s down from 74 percent in 2013. Most of the same names still feature at the top of the table but there’s been shuffling in the ranks.
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A key measure of an ISP’s performance is the reliability of the connection it provides and the speed at which it delivers the service. Our survey results show a decline in reliability ratings.
Disconnections and dropouts remain problems for many: 57 percent of respondents said they experienced problems with disconnections and dropouts “occasionally” and 15 percent “regularly”. Just 28 percent of members had no disconnections or dropouts in the last 12 months, down from 36 percent in 2013.
Most members also experienced problems with the speed of their internet – only 20 percent “never” had slower-than-expected speeds. This is a decrease from 2013 when 22 percent said their speeds hadn’t been slower than expected.
Customer service influences how consumers view their ISP’s performance. If there’s a fault, good customer service often helps ease the frustration.
Compared with 2013, satisfaction with phone help was up 3 percent for billing but unchanged for technical support (68 percent). Online help (48 percent) was up 4 percent.
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Just under 10 percent of members had changed ISP in the last 12 months. Finding a better plan (38 percent), a cheaper plan (36 percent) and dissatisfaction with an ISP’s customer service (24 percent) were the main reasons for switching.
Of those who had switched, 29 percent experienced problems. 43 percent had problems setting up with their new provider and 11 percent encountered hidden costs. Nearly a third (32 percent) also had billing problems with their old ISP provider, making the switch process less than seamless.
Around 9 percent of members in our survey had already switched to ultra-fast broadband (UFB). Overall, they were more likely to be satisfied or very satisfied (73 percent) with connection speed compared with regular broadband users (57 percent).
UFB customers were also more likely to be satisfied they were getting value for money. But scores for this measure weren’t high. Just 58 percent of UFB users thought their ISP was delivering value for money compared with 46 percent of those on regular broadband. These figures suggest the industry is continuing to promise more than it’s delivering.
Value for money
Recent price hikes are unlikely to improve “value for money” ratings. The two big players, Spark and Vodafone, have both announced rate rises and smaller providers are expected to follow. Spark was first off the block. Prices for its phone and capped broadband packages (40GB and 80GB) increase by $4 from this month, although it’s dropped the price of uncapped broadband.
Telcos have blamed the latest hikes on proposed changes to the price they pay Chorus for access to the copper network. That’s despite the regulated copper price falling from $44.98 to $34.44 a month on 1 December 2014. The Commerce Commission has since signalled a rise to $38.39 but a decision isn’t expected until at least September. Even at $38.39, the price will still be less than what telcos previously had to pay Chorus.