Chorus is apologising for its delays installing fibre in the Far North and says it is committed to addressing the backlog.
The company, which is the country’s main provider of telecommunications infrastructure, currently has around 1200 customers waiting for fibre installation in the Far North alone.
AJ Dermer first booked a fibre installation with Chorus in October last year ready for their move up north in December.
But instead what followed was months of delays with Chorus rescheduling their installation time and time again.
“They make it seem like they’re asking you for your consent to change the the date,” Dermer said.
But when customers said they were not willing to change the date, he said Chorus told them they had no choice.
Dermer said alongside his personal experience, his company had also waited around a year to have fibre installed.
He said the excuse he had got from a customer service representative also did not add up.
“Their excuse that they kept telling us was that they didn’t have a contractor in the rural regions to do the work.”
But Dermer said he was aware of them doing work about 20 kilometres away.
Another Chorus customer, who asked not to be identified, had a similar experience with the provider.
He believed the telco did not have enough staff to do the jobs in a timely manner.
But he said that did not excuse Chorus cancelling people’s jobs at the last minute, sometimes even on the day.
“They should be told in advance and I’m quite sure the contractors service company and Chorus have it within their knowledge … to know before the actual day that the tech isn’t going to be able to go to that job.”
He said Chorus also needed to be more transparent; working with their retail service companies to work out what they could provide timewise and providing the customers with sound information.
Telecommunications Dispute Resolution service (TDR) saw a 2571 percent increase in complaints and enquiries about installation delays across telecommunication companies in their last annual report (1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022), the number of cases lifting from 7 to 187.
Meanwhile TDR said over the past 12 months, 449 consumers had raised complaints about installation with them. 359 of those related to delays.
Chorus conceded some customers in the Far North had been waiting too long.
“We would like to extend our sincere apologies for the delays experienced by customers in Northland and the Far North who have been waiting to be connected to fibre,” Chorus’ head of connect delivery Marcus Wofinden said.
“We are wholeheartedly committed to addressing the backlog as quickly as we possibly can.”
From 3 April, Wofinden said a team of skilled technicians would be in the region to address that backlog.
“We expect them to be in the area around six to eight weeks and in those six to eight weeks we hope to have installed as many of those customers as we possibly can.”
However, Wofinden said they were committed to being there until “every connection has been completed”.
Wofinden said the delays were due to “challenges in identifying and recruiting the skilled resource that we require for fibre installations,” coupled with a temporary reduction from the reopening of the borders “and lots of our technicians taking the opportunity to reunite with friends and family overseas”.
He said recent weather events had also resulted in a large number of technicians being relocated.
Chief executive of the Tech Users Association Craig Young said several industries were experiencing staffing shortages.
But he said Chorus needed to be upfront with customers if it was experiencing significant delays with its service.
He said rescheduling and not being transparent with customers was not acceptable to the end user.