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Current as of 24/10/16 07:59AM NZST

Irate Spark customers criticise call wait times caused by 'cable fault'

Spark's Facebook page attracted irate customers angry at wait times. Photo / iStock
Spark's Facebook page attracted irate customers angry at wait times. Photo / iStock

"Cable faults" are being blamed for exorbitant wait times Spark customers face trying to get hold of the telco.

Spark admits the "challenges" it has faced in the past seven months trying to answer customer calls, but the admission and an increase in staff is doing little to appease those wanting to get through.

Auckland woman Louise Black faced a 90-minute wait to seek answers for a broadband fault.

She'd called Spark earlier to log the fault but after having no contact after 32 hours decided to call again about 6.20pm on Monday.

The call was finally answered about 7.55pm.

"Although we were told on the second call that something was happening, we don't really know what."

By that time, said Ms Black, she had been 48 hours without broadband.

"It is appalling customer service."

Spark's Facebook page also attracted irate customers angry at wait times that vary from "40 minutes to 222.22 minutes" - almost four hours.

"Really Spark!!!," a customer posted this afternoon. "This is how long I was on hold for yesterday and only hung up then because I had to pick up kids. 222.22 minutes is too long, way way too long to be on hold. Please employ some more people so we can get our questions answered. Thought mine was relatively simple about the new fibre connection technician that came to our house. Please answer me when I ring today!!!!!"

Another customer was on hold for more than 40 minutes trying to seek answers about why the phone line was still on at the house he'd sold two weeks ago, and the new owners couldn't get a new connection.

"3 phone calls and no reply ... hello !!!!!"

Another customer was furious after getting a callback only to be placed on hold for 53 minutes.

A Spark spokesperson says cable faults and its call centre enduring longer than usual calls due to the roll-out of fibre last year seem to be the main causes of wait times.

Issues surrounding the fibre roll-out are industry wide, she says.

"In the last few months we've seen a huge increase in demand for fibre which has driven an increased number of often lengthy and complex calls into our call centres."

But Spark has been "open and honest about the challenges we've faced in recent months with regards to high call wait times".

"Last September we spoke publicly about this and in the past seven months we've published real-time information on our website about current wait times so customers can be better informed.

"We've made improvements and we've seen a 20 per cent reduction in the time it takes for customers to reach us. While this is a step forward, we're not yet where we need to be for our customers and we know we still have a lot of work to do."

In the past seven months the telco has hired 200 more call-centre staff, doubled the size of the online chat team to support customers 24 hours a day, launched an outage map -- giving customers a real-time view of any problems on the network, improved its mobile app so home broadband customers can do a lot more and improved the call-back function.

"The reality is, every month we answer over half a million calls from customers," Spark said.

The spokesperson confirmed there had been an "unusually high wait time for faults due to some known cable faults our team were managing".

- NZ Herald

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