Telecom New Zealand Broadband – Not Great
Whilst TalkTalk still carry the flag for all that is bad in Broadband service provision and customer service in the UK, a recent trip down under gave me the chance to measure Telecom New Zealand’s home internet service. A friend has a 40GB prepaid service – beyond which she is charged per KB for traffic. Telecom also offers a version which will cap the Broadband at 40GB and then throttle the bandwidth to 64Kbps Up/Down once the cap is reached. An error on their part put my friend onto this cap-and-throttle offering so it would seem a simple phone call could resolve the problem and get service back to speed, albeit with a bill for the excess.
Not so. Telecom NZ, it seems, have a penchant for outsourcing Customer Services to various teams across both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Contacting their Customer Services number seems to send you to India or perhaps the Netherlands, judging by some of the accents encountered (we finally established, after 6 phone calls of 30 minutes plus each, that the centre is in the Philippines). Fair enough but, as we in the UK can wearily attest to when dealing with offshored call centres, the keys to good outsourcing are good process, procedures and training for the minimum-wage peeps stuffed into the call reception centres. It took almost 10 days to get the service problems rectified. Worse still, Telecom NZ – should you be lucky enough to get one of their New Zealand On-shore call handlers – are irritatingly patronising about how bad their off-shore colleagues are. It’s an old tactic – blaming some other team for the fact that the service the customer is paying through the nose for cannot be fixed until manana. However refreshingly honest Telecom staff are trying to be, it really is the same old story. Bad management, poorly executed offshoring and a low-margin/high-volume product with poor service description, procedures and systems. This coupled with a service that uses a large amount of Line-Of-Sight backhaul and technical problems abound (just watch the throughput dwindle when it rains !). And then there is the killer blow – the price. The cost of this service to my friend is NZD285 per month – that’s almost £150 a month for a less-than 2MB down (250Kbps upload) service ! This is 10 times more than what is paid in Europe for a similar service. I had expected better from Telecom NZ given some of the examples of superior infrastructure in NZ, such as EFTPOS payment in all shops and the quality of retail banking generally.
Bit scary then for the populace when it was recently announced that Telecom – and not some of its smaller rivals – has been given the lion’s share of the broadband expansion that the government here is promoting. Their huge market share is about to be increased and it is unclear whether urban broadband users will be expected to subsidise the rural network. Some reports suggest that Telecom NZ will have exclusivity but I am assured that this is not the case. For the Kiwis’ sake, let’s hope their incumbent learns a bit about service provision and management before then !
- UPDATE 1-Telecom NZ preferred bidder in broadband rollout (reuters.com)
- New Zealand Names Telecom as Preferred Bidder (online.wsj.com)
- Telecom set to dump MSN as Xtra partner (firstrate.co.nz)