update The founder of the Vodafail forum has welcomed VHA’s moves this morning to completely replace its Australian mobile network infrastructure and beef up its customer service, describing them as “promising” and showing that the troubled telco has plans for the future.
The website was founded by Sydney resident Adam Brimo in late 2010 with the aim of chronicling customer problems with the Vodafone brand owned by VHA. It quickly became the focus for widespread discontent with the company’s mobile infrastructure — with tens of thousands of Australians posting their negative experiences on its forums.
In early January Brimo was invited to meet with VHA chief executive Nigel Dews to discuss the company’s problems. The Vodafail founder also subsequently published an extensive 30 page report collating customer stories and analysing aggregate data. The report claimed to document a history of VHA failures — both technical and human — in the second half of 2010.
At the time, the Sydney resident said he was “appreciative and humbled” by the support and coverage Vodafail had achieved, but that it represented a “testament” to customers’ complaints and contributions. “We understand that this may be a frustrating time for customers however please remember to be calm and respectful to Vodafone employees and each other. We cannot personally resolve any of your issues but we can keep you informed and direct you to the right people,” he said.
In a statement published through Vodafail today, Brimo noted what he described as VHA’s “comprehensive announcement on the issues that customers are facing and what is being done to rectify those issues”.
This morning, Dews apologised again to his company’s customers, acknowledging VHA had not been prepared for the growth of mobile data usage, among other factors. “When problems came, we responded too slowly,” he wrote. And the chief executive has also published an extensive video apology on Vodafone’s main site this morning, noting the company was working “intensively” on its issues.
Brimo said the VHA announcement detailed “the causes of the problems, what is being done to address them, and Vodafone’s plans for the future”. “Two items that sound promising are the addition of 300 more call centre staff and updates to their network status page that show the progress of their $1bn in network upgrades,” he added.
“We are pleased with the improvements Vodafone has announced and encourage everyone to let us know if your service is getting better or still failing. Thank you for taking the time to share your stories and experiences with us over the past couple months; Vodafone appears to be listening. If you are still having issues then please follow the steps on how to lodge a complaint.”
The Vodafail founder said that overall, it sounds like Vodafone was communicating with its customers a lot better than it had been. “The challenge for Vodafone is winning back their customers trust. That won’t be easy but their announcement looks promising and its definitely on the right track.”
Specifically on the network replacement effort, Brimo said it was “a remarkable move”, but that the company knew more about the state of its network than anyone else did.
“I speculated in the Vodafail report that their network couldn’t meet the increasing data demands and Vodafone has largely confirmed that was a problem,” he said. “It also sounds like they’ve had a lot of software problems and if that software was supplied by the vendor, replacing it is probably the best option. All in all the network and customer service improvements are a big step forward, hopefully they get the implementation done effectively as well.”