Spark says longer-than-normal wait times are possible after its Manila-based call centre was forced to close on Covid-19 fears.

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The telco, which also operates call centres in NZ, says wait-times are currently normal, but is encouraging customers to use its MySpark app or visit a retail store for troubleshooting or help queries for fastest response.

The offshore disruption impacting on NZ scenario mirrors 2011, when Vodafone NZ's Egypt-based helpdesk was forced to close during the Arab spring, only to offshore some of its operation again with its restructure last year.

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Vodafone subsequently moved all call centre operations to NZ. Vocus (owner of Orcon and Slingshot) and 2degrees have kept the same homegrown approach.

Spark said today that the temporary closure of its customer care centres in Manila was due to precautions put in place by the Philippines Government to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The closure is a result of the Government decision, not due to an identified case of Covid-19 within the call centre, Spark said.

Earlier, publisher Stuff told subscribers to the Sunday Star-Times that its call centre staff weren't able to take calls and said customers should instead visit the Stuff website or use a local 0800 service.

It didn't mention the location and cited only "international covid-19 restrictions" for the shutdown.

The Philippines has reported 142 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 12 deaths

President Rodrigo Duterte last week imposed land and air travel restrictions in and out of Manila effective March 15.

Manila is the world's most densely populated city. Metro Manila, which comprises the capital and 15 surrounding cities, is estimated to have a population of more than 12 million people.

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At the weekend, the mayors of the 16 cities imposed night-time curfews and urged shopping malls to shut for a month to help contain the virus.

With reporting by BusinessDesk.