Can you hear me? is a new report from ACCAN. It shows that consumers are unhappy at Telco complaint resolution speed. It takes an average of 13 days, but for those with more difficult issues times blow out to 2 months.

Peak communications consumer group, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) released the damning report on customer service provided by 10 Telcos.

“All of us have telco customer service experiences. We wanted to quantify this. The aim is to give consumers some idea of who is providing the best service across some metrics,” said ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin.

“Nearly half the complaints received by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) last year identified customer service as an issue. So, we know it’s a source of considerable frustration,” said Corbin.

Rankings varied between providers (the percentage is for positive experience)

  • Virgin (70%) is no longer in the market.
  • Vodafone 61%
  • TPG/iiNet, Amaysim, Dodo/iPrimus 50%
  • Skymesh 46%.
  • Telstra 43%
  • Optus 42%
  • Belong (Telstra) and regional provider Active8Me 36%.

“There is a need for improvement. Poor customer service shifts costs from Telcos to their customers. They experience loss and disruption by spending far too long trying to resolve issues,” Corbin added.

“Customers spend days trying to sort out very straightforward things. Like changing a plan, updating contact details, and general account inquiries. This is not acceptable. It is time to shift the balance back to Telcos so that customers are not carrying such heavy costs to maintain their essential telecommunications services.’

“We are recommending the industry regulator; the Australian Communications and Media Authority take a fresh look at customer service. There is an opportunity to do this now with the current review of the industry Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code. And a new ACMA Complaints Handling Standard. We would like to see more concrete obligations in the Code and more active enforcement by the regulator,” said Corbin.

Can you hear me – key findings are (figures are averages):

  • Customers have to contact their provider 2.6 times and spend 13 days seeking a resolution (37.6 for Activ8me and 35.5 for Skymesh)
  • 19% reported their issue unresolved. Their days spent seeking a resolution increased to 60.
  • Going into the store will get you a resolution the fastest (average of 8 days). Followed by social media (average of 15.5 days); online chat /messenger on the provider’s website (19.6 days); phone (23.3 days); and email (30 days)
  • 66% prefer phone contact, but this was the slowest resolution method. It required contacting their provider 2.7 times, with 3 transfers, and spending 1.2 hours on the phone before reaching the right person.
  • 46% were told the wait time to speak to someone on hold. 48% had the option of booking a call-back
  • 58% had to re-provide some (34%) or most (24%) of the details of their issue on subsequent contacts (86% for Virgin customers).
  • 26% said they needed to repeat their case information more than five times

And if you you had the temerity to complaim

  • 55% who looked for information on how to complain said the information was difficult to find.
  • Of those who lodged a complaint with their provider, only 18% found the process easy.
  • 24% of respondents wanted to lodge a complaint with the TIO.
  • 3% proceeded with lodging a formal complaint. Potential reasons for this could be:
    • 48% of those who either wanted to or had complained to the TIO reported it was difficult to find information from their provider about how to do so
    • Of those who escalated their query with their provider or lodged a formal complaint with either the provider or TIO, 32% said their provider discouraged them from taking the matter to the TIO
    • 48% of those looking for information from their provider about lodging a complaint with the TIO said it was difficult to find

GadgetGuy’s take. A shocking state of affairs. Can you hear me needs to shout louder.

I won’t regale you with my recent experiences. Suffice to say that I have experienced such poor service from Telstra taking many months to resolve that I am a candidate for another Telco. Whoops – they are all pretty much as bad!

You can read the report in full on the ACCAN website.

Can you hear me, Can you hear me, Can you hear me, Can you hear me, Can you hear me, Can you hear me,