Phone Companies Top The Chart For Bad Customer Service

Phone Companies Top The Chart For Bad Customer Service

We’ve all experienced bad service, but which industries are more likely to spring to mind when it comes to not delivering? New data suggests that phone companies and ISPs remain the worst offenders.

Picture by MC Morgan

For the 2011 RightNow Australia Customer Experience Report, 700 Australians were surveyed about their experiences of customer service. The percentage of customers who had experienced bad service was much higher for telecommunications companies than any other sector, with 67% saying they’d had a bad experience. Here’s the full breakdown:

  • Telecommunications: 67%
  • ISPs: 47%
  • Utilities: 40%
  • Financial services: 36%
  • Insurance: 29%
  • Travel and hospitality: 27%
  • Online retailers: 29%

It’s not surprising that phone, Internet, power and water top the list. Those are all products we use every day, so the chances of our needing customers service are much higher than with a once-a-year service like insurance. With that said, there’s still no reason why phone companies should be doing such a bad job.

What would you like to see phone companies do to improve their service? Top of my list would be dumping voice recognition systems (the options are universally rubbish in Australia) and actually living up to the often-made but barely-ever-realised promise of having the first person who answers your call deal with the problem.


  • I would like for them to stop outsourcing their centre’s to overseas companies. With Telstra, most of their customer service staff are in the Philippines. I have nothing against speaking with a foreign agent, I just want them to understand me, also it would be good if it wasn’t so obvious that they were reading off a script.

    • …If the customer service was localized, the cost for employment to service the thousands and thousands of customers would go through the roof, making our pre-paid and plan phone deals incredibly more expensive.

      Solution: Find a decent store employee and build a relationship with them so you can take your enquiries to them.

  • No way

    * Centre link
    * Aust Tax Office

    Usually min 1/2 hour to 1 hour wait on phone to get through
    and then you get some dope who hangs up on you or wont put you through to the correct department

  • I find Virgin Mobile customer service to be great, as long as I use the email option – calling is always frustrating.

    All companies should allow an email option, and a self-service online account where you can get customer service, pay your bill, have an archive of all your previous bills, etc. AGL has also just introduced this and I love it!

    I think that hands down, the winner for me in the phone customer service stakes is Wine Selectors – call, hold for a max of 5 mins and speak to ONE person. Based in Newcastle. No key menus, they understand you and I’ve never had to speak to more than one person on a single phone call. They’re fabulous!

  • They (Optus/Virgin) could fix their bloody network then I wouldn’t need to complain.

    If you put up with the crap network and dont complain nothing gets done. If you keep complaining then maybe they might do something, though this logic has not worked yet.

    So where they would have no complaints from me they now have many dozens.

  • I’ve just been having the most unbelievable problems with Telstra and Optus. We live with my parents for part of the year, and just before we arrived this year my father got a phonecall from a (foreign) Telstra telemarketer who wanted us to take his internet/phone package. My father told him to call back when his son in law (my husband) arrived on November 9th. On November 9th, the internet was cut off, and we discovered the next day that the telemarketer had signed us up for the package, therefore cutting off our Optus internet. A month later and countless phonecalls and reassurances…we still don’t have internet restored, and they occasionally tell us we’re getting a new phone number. NOT!!!! I want to go to someone who can blow their socks off, but where do I go? We must have talked with close to twenty people in the company about this, and none of them know anybody else, so we have to start from scratch every time. it is SOOOOOO FRUSTRATING!!!!!!

  • As with Judy, we have the most incredible problems with Telstra. Which resulted with our business having no phones for 2.5 days and we still have no internet, possibly 3-5 days. The most frustrating thing it was because of their mistake. Words can not describe how incredibly pathetic Telstra’s customer service is. And you can not complain to anyone or do anything about it as its an oligopoly anyway. They should do a doco on Telstra, it would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.

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