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Surprise surprise: NZ telcos need to up customer service game
Thu, 2nd Feb 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

A new survey from Consumer NZ has revealed internet and mobile companies are struggling with the basics of customer service.

The te=lco survey found billing disputes, switching to UFB and installation top of the issues list, with Spark and Vodafone both performing poorly for customer satisfaction.

“One out of every four consumers has encountered a billing dispute with their internet company in the past year,” says Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin.

“To make matters worse, ironing out disputes can be incredibly frustrating. Nearly two-thirds of consumers experienced lengthy delays to speak with a customer service rep,” she adds.

The survey also found about a third of consumers who had switched to ultra-fast broadband in the past year had encountered problems.

The biggest bugbear was unmet timeframes for installation, an issue for 23%. Other problems included poorly restored property following installation and damaged property during installation.

Of the seven internet companies in the survey, Flip rated best for overall satisfaction: 64% of its customers were very satisfied with the service they received.

Slingshot and Orcon were the next cabs off the rank. Overall, 58% of Slingshot customers and 53% of Orcon customers were very satisfied.

Spark and Vodafone, the two largest players, trailed the field, the survey found. Only 43% of Spark customers and 41% of Vodafone customers were very satisfied with their retailer. Both companies scored comparatively poorly when it came to value for money.

Among mobile companies, Skinny Mobile (a division of Spark) had the most satisfied customers: 69% were very satisfied with the service they received. Skinny did significantly better than Spark, which had an overall satisfaction rating of 53%.

Skinny Mobile is a Consumer Trusted business. Businesses are assessed against Consumer NZ's Code of Conduct and agree to comply with the code's principles.

The survey revealed Vodafone lagged behind the other major mobile companies with a satisfaction rating of 50%. Its customers were more likely than average to strike unexpected charges and inaccurate bills.

Most consumers (62%) had a prepay mobile plan as opposed to a fixed- or open-term account plan, the survey showed. Consumers with prepay plans were more likely than those on post-pay plans to agree they were getting very good value for money.