How poor NBN roll out hurts small business retailers

Another of our customers had their business severely impacted last week with their new National Broadband Network (NBN) connection taking almost the whole week to get up and running.

You would think this would be okay, that they could use their old non NBN internet connection until the NBN was up and running. That smart approach was not the approach those providing their NBN connection facilitated.

At the start of the week their service provider disconnected their internet access as the NBN was about to be turned on. Five days later, after many phone calls and extraordinary business disruption, the NBN was on.

There was no apology, no compensation, no empathy.

This small business was hit hard by not having internet access. They had to spend money on temporary arrangements, which were mediocre at best. Given their location that not only cost money, it also cost time to organise.

The poor handling of the NBN roll out was caused by the Internet Service Provider of the small business. This is where the poor customer experience occurred with them disconnecting internet access prior turning NBN on and then compounding the problem with poor, almost non-existent, customer service.

There were products the business could not sell over the counter, payments they could not take, services they could not provide. Yet their ISP did not help. The biggest challenge was with cash as this business relied on close to half all transactions being cashless and they lost that, without warning, when their ISP cut them off without warning because of the imminent NBN switch over. The agreed plan was switch one off and switch one on. The operational people at the ISP were not told of the agreed plan and once they switched internet access off it appeared to be too hard to switch back on.

We helped where we could with options on lodging a complaint against their ISP and with alternative access options they could acquire. But none of this should have been necessary. Their ISP, which claims to support small local businesses, should have had the entire matter in hand.

While there is a quality issue with the current version of the NBN roll out in our opinion, there is this other problem of poor ISP management of business cut over from existing internet access to NBN access. It should be easy, well managed with easy access contact points in the event of any issue.

Internet access is vitally important infrastructure in small business retail today. This switching over to NBN must be better, faster, for small business retail.

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