Vodafone, Telstra and Co beware. The ACMA are here and there’s nowhere to hide.
Poor customer service, which has become a staple of the industry, is no longer to be tolerated and telcos that are lacking are “running out of time.”
So says Chris Chapman, chairman of the Australian Communications and Media Authority, who yesterday declared war on telcos if they didn’t up their game.
Many companies in the sector, are “at the bottom of the league table for customer care on virtually every measure,” he said.
And hefty fines are on the way for customer neglect if things don’t improve. Last month the telecom ombudsman said it received 671 calls a day, on average, in the last six months, noting a 20 percent increase in complaints about mobile services.
In the last year some of the major players in the industry, including Vodafone and Telstra have been the subject of much consumer outrage.
Late last year VHA was besieged by continuous issues with their network which affected mobile services, including call failures, slow data speeds and poor reception, which it blamed on network upgrades causing interference on other sites.
Vodafone recently apologised to customers for the service disruptions and said they added staff to the customer care division.”We’ve been working hard to improve our network and service but still have work to do,” Nigel Dews, VHA’s CEO admitted.
Telstra also traditionally had an appalling reputation for consumer neglect but is now trying to turn its bad name around and has invested $1bn in to ‘Telstra New’ its attempt to change into a customer driven operation.
“ACMA’s principal role is to provide adequate community safeguards. We’re not there to rubber-stamp companies’ views,” Chapman told The Australian.
Although the ACMA has pursued some of the biggest sinners like Optus and Telstra in the past, both companies insisted they could improve industry code of conduct without government intervention.
Telcos also must stop buck-passing and hiding behind technological complexity, he also warned. “It’s not going to be acceptable.”
The ACMA chairman also said consumer woes could escalate further in an NBN world.
“Things are going to get more difficult in the new-generation NBN world than exist now,” he said. “A lot of (telecommunications companies) have legacy back-end systems, yet they are hell-bent on securing new customers.”
The office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman received more than more than 167,955 new complaints last year.