People have taken time off work only to be stood up by installers as they switch to new ultra-fast broadband, according to an industry watchdog.
The Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ) said its feedback aligned with a Consumer NZ survey released last week that found about a third of consumers who had switched to ultra-fast broadband (UFB) in the past year had encountered problems.
The biggest complaint was installation delays, an issue for 23 per cent of customers who participated in the survey. Other problems included properties being inadequately restored following installation (9 per cent), damaged property during installation (6 per cent) and unexpected costs (5 per cent).
TUANZ chief executive Craig Young said the biggest frustration was around installers not showing up when they said they would.
"For a fibre install you've got to be home for them to do some of the work -- it can't be done remotely -- so you have to make sure that you've taken time off and are in the house. If they don't turn up or they don't meet that time and you have to take time off again, that's obviously incredibly frustrating.
"We're stressing it to the industry that you can't do that -- you've got to turn up when you tell people you're going to."
For houses older than 10-15 years, installers generally had to do some digging in order to lay the fibre. This, too, had been a frustrating experience for some customers.
"If they're going to dig up the garden or the front lawn, or possibly cut concrete in your driveway, they need to make sure it's restored adequately. There have been instances where the restoration of houses hasn't quite been up to scratch and they've needed to go back and fix it."
Companies were getting better as the UFB rollout got into full swing, and Young hoped 2017 would see the number of complaints dwindle.
Chorus, which is building about 70 per cent of the UFB network, said in a statement that it had been working very hard to improve customer satisfaction, and the results were starting to show.
Its latest survey found most customers found having their fibre installed to be a positive experience.
"In our experience most installations go very well and are done to a high standard. In the few instances where something goes awry, we are committed to rectifying the issue and making it right."
Chorus was currently doing over 12,000 fibre connections per month and was taking on more crews to enable quick and quality completion of orders.
The average time between Chorus receiving a fibre order and the service being available had gone from 13 days last October to eight days now.
A Spark spokeswoman said until recently there had only been one process for ordering and installing UFB, which was complex and cumbersome.
This was in no small part due to the number of parties involved: customers; service providers like Spark, Chorus and other local fibre companies; contractor companies that manage the installs, field technicians who work for those contractors. In some cases consent would also need to be obtained from the customer's neighbours.
"It's an industry-wide process we'd previously stated was cumbersome, with plenty of potential for things to go wrong and for miscommunication to occur," the spokeswoman said.
Spark's "street in a week" programme, carried out with Chorus, aimed to simplify this process by upgrading all customers in the same street in one week. This was giving people the certainty of being able to select a specific day within that week for their fibre installation, she said.