5 ways for telcos to lift their game

5 ways for telcos to lift their game

Summary: This week's Twisted Wire looks at how the telecommunications industry can improve its reputation, keep customers happy and get the regulators off its back.


This week's Twisted Wire looks at how the telecommunications industry can improve its reputation, keep customers happy and get the regulators off its back.

Two years ago, Twisted Wire asked, "is telecommunications a shonky business?" Complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) were at an all-time high. So, has much changed since? Well, complaints have risen even farther, and it's only recently that there have been signs of it easing off.

So, what can telcos do to improve themselves? Industry analyst Shara Evans says that they could start by fixing up customer service. Commentator Kevin Morgan adds the standard of services to the list — not just having mobile companies delivering on their promise, but also Telstra looking after its copper network.

Most of the concern, though, rests with plans and pricing. Marketing specialist Steve Howard says it's still difficult to understand what you are paying for, and to compare plans between providers.

Confusing plans are one thing, but our top two is more to do with malicious intent. We highlight a phone card that promises 2.5 cents per minute for calls to the UK, which, in reality, are likely to cost almost 10 times that amount. Then there's that old chestnut, mobile data-roaming charges. And what about the premium SMS industry, which, as we demonstrate again, has some players with questionable business practices? If telcos really want to look after their customers and improve their reputation, shouldn't they choose more carefully who they partner with?

I fear that if the industry doesn't do a better job of fixing these issues, self-regulation could quickly become a thing of the past.

Running time: 35 minutes, 27 seconds

Topics: Broadband, Government, Government AU, Mobility, Telcos, NBN


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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  • Dont forget excess mobile data charges - a situation where the first GB might cost $20 and the second $2000. Particularly bad when the first iPhones came out and were snapped up by many who didn't understand that they were using data when using apps - and the Telco's selling on them on plans with ridiculously small allowances like 20Mb.
    • Agreed, the biggest issue is with excess usage costs. People can make mistakes and be hit with massive excess costs. Im currently with virgin mobile and acknowledging it was my fault, but i went over my data cap by 591mb, which i am being charged $2 per mb. Other carriers charge between 25-50c (most at 25c - telstra/optus/voda). I've lodged a complaint with the TIO about the unconscionable excess fees that are being charged by virgin, still waiting to hear back from virgin about that. I am investigating ways to make a large scale complaint on behalf of virgin customers to reduce that excess costs to be more in line with other telcos usage fees. I understand we all signed T&C's stating this fee - however all T&C's are subject to scrutinisation and really a "fair-go" policy.
  • The answer to all these problems are called prepay.. no bill shock possible.
  • I used to work for a telco that offered calling cards, they did some dodgy stuff on those cards. They had daily fees on cards. Each month they would also run an error charge then credit it back but a couple of times a year they would just "forget" to credit it back to all customers, those that noticed and called in would be refunded, those that didnt, wouldnt.

    Lots of stepped charging on these cards too, i worked in the back end and would have to apply the rates and charges to the switches, even i had trouble understanding some of the charging.

    A big area i saw a huge hole in was customer service, most companies have now shipped off their call centres to overseas, service is horrible. Its all about get them in the door but dont worry about keeping them. Its a broken business model to say the least.