Small businesses disgruntled by their service from Vodafone have put their names to a 30-page document sent to the consumer watchdog on behalf of 12,000 disgruntled customers.
University graduate Adam Brimo, 23, created Vodafail.com when he began experiencing network problems shortly after signing up to a two-year contract with the company.
Vodafail.com was launched on December 12 last year and has already attracted 150,000 visitors. Brimo says the website is designed to draw attention to the issues facing Vodafone customers.
“For the past month, Vodafone customers and employees from all around Australia have shared their stories, the time they spent on hold and their phone reception details with Vodafail.com,” Brimo says.
“Some of the people commenting on Vodafail mention that they have lost business because of the problems.”
“I think the issues businesses are facing are the same as [the] consumer, however it probably just impacts them more.”
Vodafail’s report, titled ‘Vodafone situation: yesterday, today and tomorrow’ details thousands of stories from Vodafone customers about frequent call dropouts and delayed notification of voicemail and text messages.
Customers claim they were fobbed off by Vodafone customer service representatives who weren’t aware of any network issues, suggesting the problems they were experiencing were related to their handset or SIM card.
In late December, Vodafone chief executive Nigel Dews apologised to Vodafone customers via the company’s website.
However, the newly-formed Australian Communications Consumer Action Network says there has been an “information vacuum” surrounding the issues.
The ACCAN has made six recommendations in its submission to the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s inquiry, titled Reconnecting the Customer, regarding minimum customer service and complaint-handling standards.
The submission has the support of various consumer bodies including Choice and the Consumer Credit Legal Centre.
Meanwhile, legal firm Piper Alderman is preparing a class action against Vodafone, signed up to by approximately 19,000 individuals and small businesses.
Although it is unclear exactly how many businesses have been affected by Vodafone’s poor coverage, ACCAN spokesperson Elise Davidson confirmed a number of small business owners have reported lost business as a result.
Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, says many small business owners regard their phone as their livelihood.
“For a lot of business owners, their phone is their business and they don’t want to have to compromise that in any way, shape or form,” Strong says.