ISPs: Bigger is not better, Consumer NZ survey finds

Spark and Vodafone trail the field in customer satisfaction

Consumer NZ has released the results of its latest survey on consumers’ experience with telcos and internet service providers, saying the two largest ISPs, Spark and Vodafone, trailed the field in customer satisfaction.

“Only 43 percent of Spark customers and 41 percent of Vodafone customers were very satisfied with their retailer. Both companies scored comparatively poorly when it came to value for money,” Consumer NZ said.

“Of the seven internet companies in the survey, Flip rated best for overall satisfaction: 64 percent of its customers were very satisfied with the service they received. Slingshot and Orcon were the next cabs off the rank. Overall, 58 percent of Slingshot customers and 53 percent of Orcon customers were very satisfied.”

Flip was better than most across all performance measures, Consumer NZ reported. “Its major strength was value for money: 77 percent of the company’s customers felt they got very good bang for their buck compared with an industry average of 40 percent.”

Flip’s customers were also less likely than the average to encounter a billing dispute, unhelpful customer service or long wait times to reach a customer service representative.

Among mobile service providers, Spark brand Skinny topped the rankings with 69 percent of customers surveyed saying they were very satisfied. Skinny did much better than Spark, which drew only a 53 percent ‘very satisfied’ response. 2degrees was runner-up in the satisfaction stakes with 59 percent of customers very satisfied.

Vodafone lagged behind the other major mobile companies with a satisfaction rating of 50 percent. “Its customers were more likely than average to strike unexpected charges and inaccurate bills,” Consumer NZ said. The industry average was 54 percent.

The survey, of 1050 New Zealanders aged 18 and above, uncovered large scale problems with UFB services: a third of respondents who had switched to UFB in the past year had encountered problems.

“The biggest bugbear was unmet timeframes for installation, an issue for 23 percent,” Consumer NZ said. “Other problems included poorly restored property following installation and damaged property during installation.”

Consumer NZ CEO, Sue Chetwin, said that, overall, the survey showed both internet and mobile service providers struggling with the basics of customer service, such as ensuring their customers’ bills were accurate.

“One out of every four consumers has encountered a billing dispute with their internet company in the past year,” she said. “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.”

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