Telstra and Optus dominate the internet and mobile phone network space in terms of customer numbers, with Telstra particularly strong in regional areas, and this is reflected in the figures gathered from our members. Overall, the smaller mobile phone service providers have not been able to attract customers away from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone/3. This is in stark contrast to the internet service provider (ISP) survey, which found smaller ISPs have been able to compete effectively with Telstra and Optus.
Part of this “stickiness” – where a customer stays with a large established mobile phone service despite lower levels of overall customer satisfaction – is understandable with Telstra, given its Next G network provides the only coverage available in some rural and regional areas. However, another reason some customers stay with their mobile phone service provider may be the perceived lack of alternatives. Though small in number, some CHOICE members have voted with their wallets and left the big three networks for some smaller mobile phone service providers, with overall satisfaction levels significantly higher than the larger mobile networks.
If you aren’t happy with your current mobile plan and are off contract, sites such as Phonechoice or online forums such as Whirlpool provide really helpful advice about your alternatives.
No ringing endorsement
Some of the survey responses we received from unhappy customers reveal a distinct feeling of discontent with the established phone networks, and some members have made it very clear that using a particular mobile phone network provider does not mean they consider them value for money or that they’re likely to recommend them to others – only that they feel they have no choice.
The survey results showed though some are likely to stay with their current provider, they won’t necessarily recommend that provider to others.
Telstra rated the highest among the major mobile networks for likelihood of staying, with response rate of 82%, second only to our award winner, TPG, on 88%. However, when asked whether they would recommend Telstra to someone else, only 56% of Telstra customers were prepared to do so. In stark contrast, almost all the customers of TPG would recommend the service.
Telstra’s high scores for likelihood of staying could be attributed to their wider coverage in rural and regional areas, with members giving Telstra a reception quality score of 80% – significantly higher than any of the other providers. However, responses such as “I don’t have a choice as my geographic location forces me to use Telstra” and “I have no choice because I live in a remote town” are hardly ringing endorsements.
With only 30% of survey respondents living in rural areas, the need to stay with Telstra due to its wider network coverage is also likely to be an issue for metropolitan users, who may need the coverage when travelling. Having no choice may help explain the fact that although 72% of the CHOICE members who are Telstra customers have been with the company for more than five years, and 82% were likely to stay, only a little more than half would recommend them to someone else.