Internode sets up first ever offshore call centre


news Adelaide-based ISP Internode this week revealed to staff that it would set up its first ever offshore call centre, in a move that represents a radical departure of the company’s customer service and sales approach since its acquisition by iiNet and then TPG.

Historically Internode has maintained a strong customer service base in its home city of Adelaide. The ISP is known for its local customer service agents that have historically had a stronger technical background than staff from other Internet service providers, reflecting Internode’s overall stronger technical focus.

However, in an email to iiNet and Internode customer service teams on Wednesday this week, iiNet general manager of customer service Mathew Conn told staff that Internode now needed to seek “a little help from our friends”.

“It’s with excitement and positivity that we’d like to announce, that Internode, for the first time in the brand’s history, will be seeking some help from friends outside of Adelaide,” Conn told staff. “Along with the new staff recruited in Adelaide, we’ll be creating a small team to begin in Cape Town South Africa, the team will begin by being trained in Sales to support the superstars in Adelaide!”

Internode parent iiNet has long operated a call centre in South Africa.

Conn told staff that the “expanded” team members would be a “fully fledged part of our team and culture”.

“They will be filling gaps in our roster, that have historically been difficult to fill (Public Holidays, Weekends etc), and will give us greater flexibility within our opening hours for our existing staff members in Adelaide. We have long needed the backup that the rest of the group gets, and this is a magnificent opportunity for our brand to share in the follow the sun philosophy,” he said.

Conn said that iiNet senior customer service manager Ari Crellin would be heading to South Africa to support the new call centre, and “to give them a little bit of that Node Culture”, although Crellin would not be permanently based outside of Australia.

In answer to the question of why Internode was carrying out the change, he said: “It is part of the overall long term strategy that provides efficiency, effectiveness and ultimately allows us to provide a consistent level of support to customers.”

However, Conn intimated that the change would not affect Internode’s Adelaide-based staff much.

“It really is status quo, we also have a new team beginning in Adelaide on the 11th April,” he said.

Conn acknowledged the change would have some impact on Internode’s customers, because “they’ve never had to speak to anyone outside of Adelaide”.

The executive said if customers asked about the change, they were to be told: “We have a small team in Cape Town that supports us and our customers, this allows us to service a larger range of hours, more efficiently!”

“This is something that the rest of the business/brands already do with great success, I am confident we will see the same success with the Node brand!” Conn concluded. “Obviously changes like this take time so provide all the support you can whilst these guys get up to speed.”

Since iiNet bought Internode, and since TPG bought iiNet, rapid change has been taking place inside these companies. Internode — and iiNet — are plainly no longer the companies we used to know and love.

I predict that Internode will eventually start losing staff in Adelaide as a result of this change. The South African customer service agents will plainly be significantly cheaper, and willing to work in significantly worse conditions. We’ve seen this change a thousand times before, in larger companies such as Telstra, Optus, Vodafone etc.

TPG itself is known to have offshored a large portion of its call centre staff to locations such as the Phillipines. It will be absolutely no surprise to see TPG shift Internode jobs offshore as well.


  1. SkyMesh to the rescue!
    I’m currently switching from iiNet to Internode, mostly in the hope that I’ll avoid congestion issues. iiNet Cape Town staff are a joke.

    • I just want on-shored data back. Australia has a good corruption rating and I can also sue IN AUSTRALIA if my billing, credit card data etc is leaked. Why would anyone overseas care? $1k for a USB stick with a pile of credit cards and identifiable information for targeted scams from Nigera, etc? Why not? That’s probably a months wages for some, if not more. I’m with TPG for the VDSL2 as the only option in my area – however at this rate of offshoring all my data (and local jobs) I’ll happily pay more for a local firmly on-shored ISP once one is available in my area. I have heard Skymesh fits the bill (sic).

  2. Tragic. The next step in the ultimate destruction of one of the best Australian companies that has ever existed by removing yet another of the very reasons why they became great in the first place. LOCAL SUPPORT. RIP Internode.

  3. These are new jobs. Read the release. It allows internode to offer 24/7/365 cover.
    Quite an uninformed comment, implying that Capetown staff work in significantly worse conditions.
    The conditions mirror those enjoyed by Australian and NZ staff.
    Cost of employment is lower owing to various factors like exchange rates, site costs, the absence of super guarantees or leave loading in the Sth African context (as also with NZ).

      • Exactly, I know a LOT of Adam Internet employee’s that have been retrenched and Adam has effectively ceased to exist.

    • “the absence of super guarantees or leave loading in the Sth African context (as also with NZ).”

      These things are not positive things.

      • Indeed, what it really means is “we cant exploit Australian workers so we’ll exploit OS workers instead!”.

        • “so we’ll exploit OS workers instead!”

          Its unlikely that such workers in Cape Town are exploited. Cost effective for the business of course. Thats why they are doing it. But its a mistake to assume conditions are worse in SA for ISP support centre staff.

          • Well Gina likes to boast she pays African miners $2 a day so the wages in a cruisy call centre can’t be all that great.

          • “Its unlikely that such workers in Cape Town are exploited”

            Did you miss the bit about “the absence of super guarantees or leave loading in the Sth African context (as also with NZ).”

    • offer 24/7/365 cover, but insist on having one day off every leap then on the 366 day (or would that be the 60th day 31 (Jan) + 29 (Feb)).

      Don’t you think 24/7 actually covers all times, without the need to add 365?

    • This is appalling. One of the reasons and THE biggest reason to be with Internode was the local support, for which I was quite happy to pay a premium. I won’t be paying that premium for crap third-world service, tyvm.

  4. Bad news I’m with internode and the afternoon congestion can be pretty bad. I drop from about 6.5 -7 to 1.5 – 3 every arvo. nth qld area

    • Check the Exchange, if it is a Telstra Wholesale DSLAM – it is more likely that the DSLAM/backhaul combination is the issue more than Internode. Telstra have many examples of under provisioning backhaul and not upgrading due to the NBN. (or they implement a second DSLAM and backhaul and tell you that it is a business only service – cheap at twice the price)

      If it is an Internode DSLAM – yeah, flame them!

  5. Less chance for people getting straight answers when their Liberal copper is down for days like on Telstra.

  6. Another Australian company putting profits before locals. I’m sure customers won’t see a change in the price they are charged for their Internet.

    Glad I left Internode 5.5 years ago and went to Aussie Broadband – National Internet for Australians provided by regional Victorians. A group that knows great local talent, keeping jobs here.

    iiNode RIP.

  7. I have a couple of months before FTTN hits my street so will wait and see but this will add to my decision on whether to stay or go.

  8. Have been a customer for many years and always welcomed a voice from “home” on the other end of the line. As long as they are only adding call centres to service after hours, and as long as the new staff are as knowledgeable as the staff that I have spoken to in the past then I do not have any problems. I would still like to be able to speak with a local for the majority of my future calls though. Internode has always had good service since I joined because the staff had good technical knowledge and always got problems solved quickly. I really hope TPG continues to improve Internode services for the sake of Internode and its customers for as long as possible. Internode is a great company and I do not want to see it ruined. The moment they choose to put profits before customers and destroy it is when I say “f*** you TPG”.

  9. The reason I am still with Internode is their Adelaide based call centre. This is the spur I needed to consider other ISP’s and probably get a better deal elsewhere. I was happy to pay a slight premium for the better support that went with it. A sad state in general but hardly surprising in the profit-driven age we are currently in.

  10. Since when has outsourcing local jobs overseas been a good thing except in corporate spin?

    Have you seen the unemployment rates in Australia… in Adelaide?

    Next we will be hearing that this is wonderful for workers because they won’t have to work night shifts (which many people, students and others, would kill for). Yes, it is an untruth.

    This is nothing more than $$$$ over workers and no spin will cover that.

  11. Haters gotta hate.

    Make stuff up and get angry by all means, but the iinet Capetown call centre just celebrated its eighth birthday.
    There’s a good chance that many of their staff are more experienced than some of those in Adelaide.

    • Call your empashioned and loyal customers names by all means! Count yourselves lucky there’s no real alternative else people would be leaving.

      Internode support got decidedly worse when the iiNet takeover happened and the experienced fixers got scattered about the place. (well at least from a business perspective haven’t called a node call centre in years for a personal acct).

      • I’m surprised all that money the south African call centre give out make them worthwhile. Any time iv spoken to them, or friends of mine, we just get given money to go away really.
        got an issue, call at night. they wont fix it, but they’ll give you cash.

      • Can only comment from a Home – personal account & never being a customer of iiNet direct, hence can not compare with Capetown (been with Node for approx ten years)

        IN the few times I have had to use support since the iiNet takeover, I have found the standard to still be very high with Technical Support. Again this is only for personal accounts NOT business.

        I think the big issue missed in all the salvos directed wildly in this is the actual methods used and capability to close helpdesk tickets in PROPER Consultation with the customer AND provide the customer access to Re-open the ticket. With sound reasons to do so of course.

        As others have noted, I place value in Higher Quality support (up to $10 per bill). My preferences is to see Australians gainfully employed. It would mean I would make a call if ever we see a TOTAL OFF SHORING, for example start a churn to say Skymesh or AUSBB someone like that, it would be a sad day BUT something I would definitely be prepared to do.

      • I wouldn’t say its the offshoring that has had any affect, I mean we only ever call during business hours the staff seem compentant but the issue is they are not the ones which end up fixing or doing the work.

        Used to be fairly simple it would be escalated etc chances are the person doing the request would actually be the one closing the ticket and talking as well to let you konw it was sorted. Now its like a needle in a haystack it seems sometimes where no-ones quite sure where that go to person is anymore and whether it was someone in iiNet or Node that they had to hunt ‘anyone’ down. It really does feel like a disconnect.

        • SimonM, I gather it would be that similar disconnect that Telstra customers get when they call up for support Only to have to robotically run through the same historical tracing of the information Over and Over.

          Help-desk tickets should be properly capturing the history of the problem, should it not ? Oh that is if they (Telstra) use a customisable platform (is it Siebel? I have heard is used) At my work, our very professional Info services team have a system that allows the originator of the Help-desk ticket to re-open it (there is a similar thing for Internode too) Well, weather it is the systems fault OR a mix of that and poor customisation, surely poor training is one key element in the case of O-s Technical Support which has a very poor reputation based on Australians use of it for a while.

          As written in my 2 April response, I put AUD value on actual LOCAL and CAPABLE Technical Support Help-desk and would base decision to churn away upon that facility being withdrawn, over to a provider with Aussie based help.

  12. South Australia has a 7.5 % unemployment rate thanks to companies like yours off shoring work just to please bean counters only interested in the “bottom line”, I hope you are proud of yourself?

    This sort of corporate behavior is why folks like me can’t live in their home state if they want to support their families!

    • “That sort of corporate behaviour …”
      You’re having a lend, surely.
      Don’t blame others for your failures.
      SA’s unemployment has nothing to do with this change. Anyway, iiNet/Internode/Adam employs more SA folks now, than they did when they sold.

      Oh, and it’s not ‘my company’. I don’t work for any of them or TPG and haven’t done for quite a while.
      I’m just trying to squeeze some facts between the BS.

      • Adelaide had an IT industry in the 90’s, it’s largely gone now and that’s a fact.

        Myself and many others have moved to the east coast and are doing quite nicely now.

      • Btw Steve, what you and other corporate leaders fail to realise is by off shoring jobs, is that you literally erode your own market.

        As un-employment goes up and the middle class shrinks your potential customer base does too. The Yankees have demonstrated this very nicely and our conservative politicians and corporate leaders seem hell bent on following them down this path to national economic destruction!

        When will ppl like you realise that the short term balance sheet gains are long term economic suicide?

        • Lol. Such expert advice. And free, too.
          So how many businesses have you started in a garage and sold for $1.5 billion, twenty odd years later ?

          I find it distasteful reading the suggestions that employing people in South Africa and New Zealand automatically means they are inferior and employed in sweat-shop conditions. Their performance against all metrics (especially NPS scores) were consistently competitive with any of the Australian CCs, if not better.

          But then what would someone working for 42 years in the industry know about it?

          • Ahhh, the magic NPS scores AND offshoring jobs AND the “absence of super guarantees or leave loading”

            The workers’ friends.

          • It was possible to do because the rest of us provided a society where you could find such a market. That market is shrinking as a result of these sorts of decisions and the policies that corporations have bought through their lobbyists and think-tanks.
            Have you not noticed the massive increases in homelessness in Australia’s major cities in the last decade?
            Did you think that was unrelated?

          • um iinet has gone down the toilet starting with the african call centre then being bought out by the chinese. I went with aapt 11 years ago (which became iinet) and it was great. Now its bloody terrible, downtime, issues with bills, consultants never fix the issue and never call you back. Awful, but I guess what would I know being an 11 year customer huh?

  13. Maybe time for TPG to talk to Academy IT in Adelaide about staff training for preparing competent service desk staff in any country?

  14. The old I want, want, want but don’t want to pay mentality. Then have the hide to whinge loud and often about the fact when companies make a move off shore.

    The same people complain about manufacturing disappearing in Australia, but only purchase cheap, overseas imports.

    • Except Internode isn’t a budget ISP and people have historically paid a bit extra to them compared to the alternatives to receive better service…

      • Check the plans pretty sure the current crop look pretty well the same across the ‘company’. All the fringe benefits are fast dissapearing if not already gone too.

        Teoh knows there is nowhere for anyone to go so could really care less.

        • That’s because since their acquisition by TPG they’ve had pricing restructured as well.

          TPG don’t understand why people are Node customers at all, they’re turning them into just another run-of-the-mill low price, low cost, low service ISP. They were one of the few premium Australian ISPs you’d recommend to your friends and family until the take over.

    • Frank I happily pay the premium that internode charge for the better on-shore support they offered. If that better on-shore support is no longer then their is zero reason to pay that premium.
      I have voted with my wallet but that is being ignored to chase higher profits by using overseas call centres.
      Please tell me how that is just want, want ,want without willing to pay.

  15. I just got the South African call centre when calling for the GFs iiNet account. 7:00pm Saturday, when you would normally get an Australian. They took 2 hours to call us back, were barely understandable because there were so many people packed in to wherever she was you could barely hear her over all the people talking in the background, and… couldn’t help us, call back during the week.
    Well, their goes iiNet/Internode, worst support call ever.

    • Spot on mate, it should not have happened , ACCC is not to the interest of keeping jobs in oz!

  16. Internode’s quality of support has been slipping steadily ever since the iiBorg takeover, this was just a matter of time.

  17. Could have gotten someone to proofread such an important announcement.

    It’s a real pity to see this happen but hey, could this trigger some new niche players?

  18. I rarely if ever comment in articles like this but i felt i had to. TPG cuts corners when it can – its cheap and nasty. It cuts corners with their support as well. When this kind of thing in the article is announced, it usually means the start of the end in a ways for support locally. I worked for a company which iiNet bought out X years ago and exactly the same thing happened. Outsourced to fill the gaps — is there a reason why local support spots couldnt have been created instead of going overseas?. Cost cutting measure.

    • You do get how difficult and expensive it is to have support call workers in a city working in the small hours of the night right? generally speaking at that time short of some massive drama you’re looking at filing a ticket to be followed up the next day too or just general script trouble shooting to fix an issue anyway (because none of the locals that fix stuff are working etc).

  19. I’m already looking at the available wireless services in Adelaide. Trying to future proof FTTN but this will just accelerate the decision. Still only called Node support twice in 10 years.

  20. TBH…my experience as a current and soon-to-be ex-iiNet-employee (by choice) was great prior to the TPG takeover. Even though we use different CRM’s, some of us Node and iiStaff still communicate with each other via Lync (and yes…we know everything is recorded but don’t really gaf).

    The general consensus among staff is that Capetown are poor performers when it comes to support and billing; especially when you take into technology such as HFC/NBN/VDSL/Velocity/NBN Wireless. I’ve only ever had a good experience with a very small handful of Capetown staff from Service Delivery (and they’re usually the tenured ones). They are certainly friendly when you speak to them but most have NFI and tend to pass the buck a lot or don’t action tasks or task notes at all. AND it always seems like there’s a party going on in the background. Doesn’t sound like a proper call centre.

    My colleagues at iiNet Sydney have felt the impact the most. The entire call centre is pretty much working as a skeleton crew. A lot of staff have resigned (and some made redundant). CSM’s, SCSR’s, CSR’s, Corporate. They scrapped one of the best and most knowledgeable Faults teams at iiNet Sydney to turn them into Transact Provisioning (some have resigned). Some Transact Billing staff have been moved into TPG offices in George Street to teach the AAPT team the TA Billing side of things. Whether they’ll have jobs after the training is another thing. The SD team only have a handful of tenured and experienced staff left (again…some have resigned). They even scrapped weekend and public holiday work (the main income earners for the already sub-standard $38k salary) .

    Mostly…I feel for the Node and II customers. That level of service has dropped substantially from fantastic to almost non-existant. There are quite a few staff that will go above and beyond but those days are almost over when you have a few great staff copping it for the mistakes of many. NPS is still a joke. One of the guys got 13 detractors (it’s where the CSR gets a 10 and the company scores a 0 in the survey after every call or email) because 9 previous CSR’s failed to do what one person easily done.

    /End Rant

  21. Again… What’s the protection of private information like? Remember that cheap countries are generally cheap for a reason – with corruption and weak law enforcement being frequent and significant reasons. Australia is expensive largely due to our strong regulatory and legal frameworks and enforcement. Australian’s are already experiencing significant specifically targeted scams and credit card fraud – and one must ask – is there a link between the rise of this – and cheap-shoring? I for one am increasingly uncomfortable with increasing amounts of my personal data being shipped off to countries with legal systems regarded as weaker than the Australian legal system.

    • Well…I can assure you that CC and DD details are hidden quite well. We can only see the last 4 digits of any banking/credit card details. Any time a staff member retrieves any info (restricted to passwords only), it gets flagged by an internal system. The Capetown staff use the same systems as AU/NZ based iiNet staff, so it would be same thinking for Internode. The iiNet Capetown staff will be trained into Node systems from what we’ve been told but unable to confirm until my sources in Capetwon, tell me otherwise.

  22. Here’s a suggestion for wherever support staff happen to be: log the location of faults in a central area. When you see 2, 3, 5 or 10 similar reports clustered in the same area then this should be flagged, with a big fat popup on the support staff screens if necessary.

    This can help avoid having tech support staff, customers and local IT crews running around going through the same time consuming troubleshooting with every single report which comes along. Bigger picture diagnostics like this can help pinpoint certain issue more quickly.

    Random e.g.: say there’s a hashing issue with LACP when trying to aggregate additional capacity, resulting in dropped packets every few seconds when that link is used. If taken as a single report it could almost be anything. When you have 10 + reports in the same small area then you know something’s up.

    From what I can tell, Australian support staff do not yet have such a system in place. I doubt having Cape Town cover some of the calls is going to make much difference here.

    • You’re asking a lot for a CSR that earns $38k per year with below standard pay. Couple in the fact that nearly all of the support and billing staff are now based overseas (even lower pay), I honestly doubt that will even happen.

      There is a system in place which is logged as an event but needs the CSR to submit an event (or ETS) which generally doesn’t happen with frontline staff who have call taking ACW (After Call Work), ADH (Adherence), Tasking % to adhere to. You will generally have the guys/girls in OpCen/NOC monitor serious outages that affect staff and customers alike.

      • “You will generally have the guys/girls in OpCen/NOC monitor serious outages that affect staff and customers alike.”

        If they’re aware of it. I’d call it “serious” if takes down a chunk of a capital city, but the mechanisms are not in place for the poor CSRs to report this. They follow the script.

        Yes, this has happened. It was only resolved thanks to the direct line a client had to a manager. It took days, and should have been obvious. The CSRs would’ve kept on with the circular troubleshooting until the cows came home.

        It has nothing to do with pay level. The CSRs could simply report the location and type of problem and continue with their usual service. Someone in a NOC or elsewhere would be monitoring this feedback.

  23. Offshoring to vendors is a reality of modern large business, little vantage to be gained in arguing against it.
    Is it sad that jobs could be eventually lost to it in the future? Yes. But this article clearly indicates at this point of time they are new jobs to be created in South Africa.
    Remember, offshoring allows a better balance sheet to be maintained at a high level – which ultimately protects more local jobs in the process.

    • “they are new jobs to be created in South Africa”

      … that have not been created in Australia.

  24. So, is this an April Fool’s prank that hasn’t been acknowledged or is this actually true?

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