Hate Your Phone Company? It's Probably Your Own Lazy Fault

Aussies like complaining about our mobile phone and internet providers, but we're not so good at doing anything about it. A survey of 800 consumers by the Australian Communications and Consumer Action Network (ACANN) suggests that we're highly unlikely to change phone providers, or even to check our usage.

Picture by Susana Fernandez

The standout figure in this survey for me was the fact that 46 per cent of people have been with the same provider for five years or more. There are plenty of things to dislike about our local communications offerings. A random list would include stupidly slow connection times, incomprehensible charging schemes and networks which throttle torrent downloads. However, many of these problems can be solved by switching providers (especially in urban areas; I appreciate regional consumers often have minimal choice). Even if you're happy with your current choice, it makes sense to check alternative options every so often.

Other interesting findings:

  • Unsurprisingly, we're less worried about landlines these days. 58 per cent of respondents said that a mobile phone was their main communications service. That figure was much higher for people aged 18-34 (77 per cent).
  • Over half (52 per cent) of those surveyed do not track their data usage. This is not a good strategy to use overseas.


    with an unlimited plan and 5GB, what's to check?

    Meh, what am I going to do about it? I can either enjoy Telstra's reception, along with their awful customer service and accounting teams, or I can change providers and enjoy bad reception and dropouts.

    I have a phone to make phonecalls, I don't find Optus or Vodafone suitable for these needs.

    Just be grateful that some of you have a choice.

    the trouble with this survey is that it assumes that if you stayed with the same provider for 5 years, you havent been checking to see if there are better alternatives. In many cases, a check of alternatives simply confirms that you have the 'best' deal/service that is available to you, so there is little point changing. It also doesnt seem to take into service availability (eg. if Vodaphone gets no service in your area, why would you use it?)

    What you have forgotten to mention in this post, Angus, is that in the case of PSTN and ADSL/Fibre faults, changing providers will actually cause problems for customers.

    These problems include increasing the time taken to get a fault fixed, the fact that the voice or internet provider is probably using the same DSLAM/port or wholesale provider at the customer's exchange meaning they will have the same problem with the new provider, and possible setup costs with going to a new provider.

    In most cases it is far better for people to persist with their current provider until their fault is fixed, then decide if they wish to stay with their current provider.

      yeah if there's a fault currently. I've also notice (in the case of my home ADSL connection) that every time I change it takes me a few month and a number of calls to get the service running reliably and as fast as possible, so now that I have I've stuck with the same provider for the past 3 annual contracts. I don't want to risk losing the reliability it took so much effort to get in the first place.

    Woolworths prepay:
    $29 ($26.50 with an everyday rewards card)
    LASTS 45 days (not 30 like everyone else)
    5gig internet
    $250 to any optus network
    $250 to anywhere in the world

      I have changed over to Live Connected (an Optus reseller). I get $500 of calls and 1.5gb of data for $12 a month. So far, they've been good - however, they only provide their support by email.
      I was disappointed with my previous provider (Vodafone). Even though I really don't like Optus, this seemed the best overall for my needs - and I saved over $30 a month.

        Me too. I recently found them, and I'm the same plan. I used to be on Virgin, but I found Live Connected to be much better value.

    While I came from a country you cannot switch your provider while keeping the number, I am grateful. Though some of the customer service team sucks.

    Based on what I've seen, complaining but being unwilling to do anything about it, is not limited to phone or ISPs. It seems to be an Aussie trait. Take the online shopping situation for example. Everybody whinges about retail prices and yet Coles, Woolies & Westfields are packed out. Laziness or ignorance?

      I just got to my local Westfield to "showroom" i.e. look for products to buy online later.

    i recently left a vodafone reseller to join an optus reseller. i bought a new phone from an independent online retailer. i had to use the telco ombudsman as a threat to my old telco to release my number, but other than that it was plain sailing

    I remember being with vodafone and hating it when I got no reception. Then I stopped being poor and went with Telstra instead, amazing service. Get what you pay for.

    I have just received a notice from Telstra saying that they are changing my billing from 30 second blocks to 1 minute blocks. 30 secs is bad enough but at least I was aware of this before signing on for another 2 years. I have reviewed my last 6 monhs bills and calculated that, on average, I will now pay 25% more across my bill. How is it possible for a telco provider to lock you into a 24 month contract with a minimum spend and then change the value of your cap mid way with through the contract. My $550 cap is more like a $470 cap. Surely this is a breach of contract. I will take my question to the TIO and see how I go. And (off topic slightly) Is it just me or has Telstra reception quslity dropped markedly in the past 6 months??

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