Vodafone defends new customer lure

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 11:54 02/04/2013
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TelstraClear - now trading as Vodafone - has angered cable broadband customers by slashing prices by up to 30 per cent or boosting data caps for new customers while not improving its offers to existing subscribers.

Vodafone spokesman Gary Bowering defended the move, saying it was "standard practice in the industry to offer new customers a bit extra to sign up". 

If existing customers felt hard done by, they could call up and haggle and might be offered the same deals as new subscribers on a "case by case basis", he said.

Vodafone has inherited about 80,000 cable customers in Wellington and Christchurch from its $840 million takeover of TelstraClear, and scrapped the TelstraClear brand yesterday. 

The company today introduced new "triple play" phone, broadband and Sky cable television plans priced from $113 a month with a 40 gigabyte data cap, instead of the 2Gb cap offered to existing customers for the same price.

A 100 megabit-per-second triple play plan with a 150Gb data cap costs new customers $163 a month, and existing customers $233 a month. 

Mauricio Freitas, who owns technology website Geekzone, was among those to take umbrage on Twitter.

TelstraClear last year began offering similar aggressive discounts to new customers signing up to copper-based broadband plans in the rest of the country, where its cable networks are not available.

Bowering indicated existing cable customers might well be able to get the same prices the company was offering to new customers if they called up and asked, had been with the company a reasonable period, and had a good payment history.

However, they would then have to accept the same terms and conditions that applied to new customers, which included signing up to a minimum one-year contract term.

"Generally we are happy to look after our customers and we want to keep them."

Bowering acknowledged customers who were not "in the know" or who did not have time to haggle might be disadvantaged, but said that seemed to be "the way of the world at the moment".  

"Insurance companies do it. Banks do it with 'special' interest rates."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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