news Cut-rate broadband provider Dodo has slammed comments made about its customer service record in parliament by Liberal MP Paul Fletcher as “grossly unfair” and noted it would have expected more from the politician, given he was a former telecommunications sector executive.
Earlier this week, Fletcher attacked early NBN pricing released by Dodo and fellow ISP Exetel, claiming the pair’s commercial plans didn’t reflect the reality of what he said would be increased pricing on the NBN compared to today’s existing broadband options.
The Coalition’s MP’s attack also broadened to Dodo’s customer service record. “I make the point that while there is nothing wrong with being discount operators, as Dodo and Exetel are, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman reports that over the period October 2010 to March 2011, 4.5 percent of its complaints concerned Dodo, although it had a market share of 2.9 percent,” he said.
However, Dodo chief executive Larry Kestelman this afternoon issued a statement returning fire on the Liberal MP.
“Mr Fletcher’s tactic of using Australian companies to simply bash the Government’s NBN is grossly unfair and I would have expected more from an elected representative who actually understands the telco marketplace,” said Kestelman. “Not all Australians can afford the high prices for broadband charged by some of our competitors and his attack on value for money providers is a real blow to all Australians who are fighting the ever increasing cost of living.”
Kestelman pointed out that the Coalition was “constantly chiding” the Government for a perceived increased cost of living in Australia, including on the issue of the National Broadband Network — with Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull raising the issue of high NBN prices on the same day as Fletcher’s comments about Dodo.
“But now when it suits a political target it is fine for them to justify higher prices,” said Kestelman. “Mr Fletcher and his Coalition colleagues cannot have it both ways.”
“Surely all Australian’s deserve affordable broadband. If Mr Fletcher is trying to preserve the status quo and the dominance of the old school telcos, this is not a policy that is going to endear him to the Australian public.
The Dodo chief also took umbrage with Fletcher’s grasp of customer service statistics, claiming the MP had simply “lifted” figures from Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman reports “without taking into account that Dodo is a full service telco provider and compares well against its much more expensive competitors”.
Kestelman said in the past 18 months, complaints against Dodo to the TIO had dropped 40 percent. In December last year, Dodo-related complaints were 1.58 percent of all TIO complaints, he added, and in March 2011, just 1.21 percent of complaints related to Dodo. Call centre performance was also strong — with the company’s daily average answer time never having risen above 2.5 minutes in the past six months.
“If Mr Fletcher had actually taken the time to look at what users are actually saying he would have seen that our performance is significantly up in almost every category,” the Dodo chief executive added. “We deliver our customers great value – something Mr Fletcher seems to have a real problem with. The telco market needs companies like Dodo to keep the big boys honest on pricing. We are providing a great value for money proposition to our customers today and will continue to do so with the NBN.”
The office of Paul Fletcher has been invited to respond.
While Fletcher’s right — Dodo doesn’t precisely have a great reputation for customer service — it was perhaps somewhat of a low blow to criticise the company’s customer service in Federal Parliament.
In addition, Kestelman has a very valid point about the Coalition. It’s hypocritical for Turnbull and Fletcher to be criticising claimed high prices under the NBN and those attempting to offer lower prices at the same time. As I wrote this week, personally I feel the whole pricing issue is a bit of a dead end line of argument for the Coalition anyway, but if it is going to go down that path, it should at least be consistent.
Image credit: Dodo