People Telecom to care for customers domestically

Telco announces an Australian-based customer care facility in Hobart by June this year

Medium-enterprise telecommunications company, People Telecom, is set to establish an Australian-based customer care facility in Hobart by June this year.

The move comes more than two years after the company began outsourcing its customer care services to Manila and the Philippines to cut costs. Then chief executive officer and executive director, John Stanton, said the company would retain local staff to handle higher-level complaints, but over time all customer care has been outsourced.

A letter sent on behalf of operations director, Geoff Horth, to People Telecom customers this week announced the "return of Australian-based customer care" for the company, based off feedback from its 2009 Customer Satisfaction Survey. The letter promised "unparalleled service levels and access to highly responsive and friendly staff, trained to assist your every need".

People Telecom's parent company, M2 Communications, was approached for comment but wasn't available at time of writing.

The move to establish an Australian customer care centre comes after a recent debacle with Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), in which People Telecom was urged to issue refunds to customers who signed up to the company's services through door-to-door sales and telemarketers. The telco was alleged to have breached the Trade Practices Act by transferring customers from rival carriers without consent, and referring customers who didn't pay invoices to debt collectors.

Statistics from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) show it received up to 839 individual complaints against People Telecom across 2009, with some customers describing the telco as incompetent and dishonest.

People Telecom was acquired by M2 Communications (ASX: MTU) in December 2008 for $17 million as a means to build the wholesale company's presence in the medium-enterprise market, particularly in Sydney. The company has since become M2 Communications' tailored telecommunications retail arm, complementing telco equipment brand Commander and the SOHO-focussed Southern Cross telecom.

Following the acquisition, M2 Communications cut up to 20 per cent of People Telecom staff in August last year as a cost-cutting measure.

More recently, M2 Communications completed its $5 million acquisition of Clever Communication's (ASX: CVA) off-net fixed, mobile, data and virtual private network (VPN) customers, following a strong return for the first half of the telco's 2010 financial year. The acquisition left Clever Communications with a surplus of $6.6 million, which it expects to return to shareholders.

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Tags customer serviceTelecommunicationspeople telecomM2 Communications

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