Why Australians Want To Switch Mobile Providers (And Why We Don’t)

Why Australians Want To Switch Mobile Providers (And Why We Don’t)

Almost half of Australia’s mobile phone users considered switching carriers last year, but less than a third of those consumers actually did so. What’s driving us to want to switch mobile providers, and what’s holding us back?

Picture by Daniel X O’Neill

A study of 1,600 mobile customers by Macquarie University found that 41 per cent had considered switching in the last year, but just 16 per cent actually did so. There’s obviously a variety of reasons why consumers might change, and in many cases more than one reason will apply.

The dominant issue uncovered in the research (sponsored by Amaysim) was poor network coverage, cited by 39 per cent of those surveyed. It’s probably fair to assume that Vodafone’s network woes were a major factor here.

The next most common reason was wanting to switch handsets or poor customer service, both of which scored 30 per cent. We’ve often advised that signing up for a 24-month contract is risky, and clearly the urge to shift is affecting many people. Many of the other reasons (as you can see in the infographic) relate to changing needs and usage patterns.

So why don’t we switch? Again, the research highlights a number of reasons, but a major recurring theme is inertia and difficulty:

Again, it’s worth noting that being locked into a contract is the dominant reason for not switching.

We’re going to run a more detailed analysis on the whole report later this week on Lifehacker, but in the meantime we’re interested in your experience. Have you contemplated switching? Did you actually switch? Tell us in the comments.


  • Every time my contract comes up, I look at the available options, my useage patterns, my usage experience and what I might need in the future. As yet, there still hasn’t been any reason to switch from Vodafone although I’ll definitely switch to a different plan come July.

    • Assuming your contract runs out in July I’d suggest calling up and saying you want your account number because you’re considering cancelling because you want to be on a plan that suits you better. Chances are they’ll offer to switch you to a more suited plan rather than lose you as a customer.

  • I’m with telstra, and have thought about changing to optus, but since telstra’s plans have improved i really can’t be bothered to change. I’d hazard a guess that pure laziness is a strong motivator to stay on the same plan

  • I have been locked in a plan with Crazyjohns, for the past Yr and half. If I wasn’t locked on contract I definitely would of changed networks.

    The fact that they have such horrible coverage is the main reason.

    Also the fact that they provide letters with offers that you need to go into the store to redeem. Problem is that there is no longer any CrazyJohns open in Tassie after they shut down one after another last year.

    Cant wait to change.

  • I’ll definitely be switching from VF at the end of my contract, barring a major 3G upgrade in my suburb. I’m on WiFi 90% of the time, but out and about my data coverage sucks.

  • The third reason – too much cost / effort – isn’t that just a product of your contract?

    Pretty much any provider will bend over backwards for you if you are an out-of-contract subscriber wanting to change…

  • I’m out of contract with 3 but I’m still waiting for my fiancee’s contract to complete as we want to be on the same network. We’ve considered switching to Telstra for their coverage, but their plans aren’t as good as VF and others. We’ll also need to decide depending on which handsets are available at that time.

    That said, if VF’s magical network upgrade can show some real magic then we might consider staying with VF.

  • Changed to Telstra this year at the end of old Optus contract, it was painless (read: really easy) and a no brainer with the speed of the data network and better coverage. Some the results surprise me, seems laziness factors in a fair bit (or lets call it brand loyalty).

    Disclaimer: previous big T employee, it was fun for a while… 🙂

  • My wife moved her mobile from 3 to Telstra about a month ago, and now anyone on Vodafone or 3 that try calling her get an “Optus number is disconnected” message! WTF. Telstra haven’t sorted it out, so its with the TIO now.

  • free phone+they called me before iooked around (A.K.A lazines ) kept me at vodafone but next contract I’ll probably look at testra depending on what phone i can get and the price of a contract

  • Been on Telstra, then 3 then Voda, then Virgin and now back to Telstra again. Virgin customer service used to be good until they sold out to Optus/SingTel then “off-shored” their customer service — now it sucks big time. Voda customer service has ALWAYS sucked, Telstra customer service used to be horrific but has improved significantly; network issues on Optus/Virgin and Voda make it virtually impossible to make phone calls or browse the net without dropouts. At least the Telstra network works and works nearly everywhere, even if it is more expensive. BUT, changing between ANY of the carriers is ALWAYS an horrific nightmare of biblical proportions — EVERY TIME — and THAT’S why no one wants to change.

  • I switched from 3 to Vodafone because coverage was non-existant in my house and dropouts were a regular thing.
    Getting that sorted really came down to was the person I talked to. The first time they agreed to waive a small portion of the remainder of the contract on the condtion I went with VF. The second time they told me to send my phone out for repairs before they’d do anything. The third time I told them I wanted out and didn’t want to pay off my contract as I’d been paying monthly bills for a service I couldn’t use. They said they didn’t want to inconvenience me further and ended my contract.

    I haven’t had any problems with VF in terms of coverage, and haven’t had to deal with customer service since I signed up.

  • With 5 months remaining on my contract with Vodafail, I simply called them up and said I wanted out due to poor reception. After going through the bureaucracy (painlessly) of “You must first lodge a tech sport ticket to see if there are outages in your area”, I got putt through to Billing and restated my case.

    They let me break the contract with nothing to pay (other than the remaining balance on my handset).

    Entirely painless procedure. Then porting my number to Telstra was as simple as picking three contract and giving them an account number from Voda.

    My advice for those who want out: be polite but unwavering I’m your commitment to leave without paying.

  • Vodafone network sucks! Period.
    I switched from 3 to Vodafone last January and It has been nothing but a pain in my ass. I have lost many a calls coming through because of their network. My phone can see the network but can not register. Their $1 billion network upgrade plan is a joke. The data network is another big joke. What the f*ck am I going to do with a smart phone when I can’t google in the road, see maps for navigation and anything related to the Internet. Can anybody suggest me how difficult it is to switch carriers mid contract? I am f*cking dying here..

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