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Businesses failing ‘simple’ customer service standards

Thursday, 7 October 2010 | By Oliver Milman

Australian businesses are failing at basic customer service on key issues such as hidden fees, complaints and warranties, claims consumer lobby group Choice.


A survey of more than 400 Choice members found that hidden fees and costs is the biggest annoyance to Australians, above lack of refunds for items under warranty in second position.


Consumers are also unhappy about not getting hold of someone on the phone when they call a business, with the complaint coming in third place.


Other areas of concern for consumers are spam emails, telemarketers, lack of response to complaints, confusing price plans and companies only allowing payment by direct debit.


Choice says that women are generally more annoyed by men with customer service failures, while older people dislike being placed on hold more than other consumers.


The consumer group says that the list was unsurprising, but proved that Australian businesses were failing to meet customer service standards.


“These issues are similar to ones we see raised in the US – they are pretty universal,” says Brad Schmitt, Choice spokesman. “Businesses are getting simple things wrong. Australians appreciate honest and good service and they aren’t getting it.”


“We’d encourage consumers to not settle for second best. Unfortunately, they currently have to do so.”


Schmitt says that concerns such as hidden fees apply to menus on small restaurant businesses as much as large telcos, but adds: “Our experience is that there are a lot of complaints about the telcos and banks. It’s harder to get through to the larger businesses compared with the corner store.”