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Telco that Optus shuttered provides best customer service: ACCAN

If you want the best service from an operational telco, head to Vodafone. Otherwise, pine for Virgin Mobile.

Virgin Mobile has blitzed an Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) report detailing disappointing customer service from Australia's telco providers; however, the telco stopped selling new services on June 15.

According to ACCAN, of the telcos that customers can change over to, Vodafone provided the best service, followed by TPG/iiNet, Amaysim, Dodo/iPrimus, Skymesh, Telstra, Optus, Activ8me, and in last place Telstra-owned Belong.

The survey of 1,347 customers conducted in late February to mid March said heading into a store will resolve an issue in eight days on average, almost twice as quick than complaining on social media, at 15.5 days. Using online chat results in an average 19.6-day resolution time, while phoning the telco takes over 23 days, and email resolution lasts a month, at a 30-day resolution time.

"We found customers are spending days trying to sort out very straightforward things like changing a plan, updating contact details, and general account inquiries. This is not acceptable," ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin said.

"It's time to shift the balance back to telcos so that customers are not carrying such heavy costs to maintain their essential telecommunications services."

ACCAN wants the industry and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to look at customer service and beef up the regulator.

Elsewhere in the report, Telstra took a battering for trailing the field on providing accurate and relevant information, lacking knowledgeable staff compared to its competition, and only managing to solve one in two issues at first contact. The dominant telco had almost a quarter of all issues take a month to resolve, according to ACCAN, with only Activ8me being able to top that figure, with just under half taking longer than a month to fix.

On the positive side, Telstra was the least likely to discourage customers from complaining to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), while Amaysim discouraged 63 percent of complainants and Optus attempted to dissuade 48 percent of complaints going to the TIO.

In response to the survey, industry body Communications Alliance said ACCAN had cherry picked the data presented by the survey.

"[ACCAN] also neglects to mention that 58 percent of customers were able to have their issues resolved as a result of their first contact with their service provider -- and that most consumers said the service they received from their telco provider was in line with their expectations," Comms Alliance CEO John Stanton said.

"We have seen more recent improvements in complaint volumes to the industry ombudsman and in customer satisfaction research that will be published soon."

Comms Alliance also welcomed the appointment of former chief of staff for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and former Optus director of regulatory and corporate affairs David Epstein to the role of chair of Communications Compliance, and Victoria Rubensohn to serve as deputy chair.

"Communications Compliance performs a valuable self-regulatory role for the telco sector, monitoring the compliance performance of service providers against consumer protection code provisions and assisting companies to improve their performance," Stanton said.

"David Epstein has extensive industry and consumer experience, both as a senior executive with leading service providers and as a director of the industry ombudsman."

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