Over the past week there has been quite an active discussion on Geekzone in regards to Vodafone's new roaming pricing which has resulted in quite a large number of posts. Over at Rod Drury's blog there has been a similair discussion and in both cases many people have disagreed with factors of Vodafone's new policy. I am one of those people and have made my feelings present that I personally disagree with the new charges because of the big increases in roaming costs to Vodafone NZ's biggest roaming destination, Australia. We all know that roaming is a huge money spinners for mobile operators and that's precisely why the EU have mandated price drops among EU mobile operators for roaming calls. It's just a shame that Vodafone's price increase goes against many of the policies of ANZCERTA (NZ's free trade agreement with Australia).
Vodafone could have been leaders in the global roaming market instead of followers. Hutchinson have set the benchmark for everybody else by abandoning the concept of roaming surcharges and if you're a 3 customer roaming on another 3 network anywhere else in the world you have the benefits of paying no surcharges for incoming call forwarding, you can use included minutes and txt messages that are in your monthly bundles with no surcharges and also pay cheap prices for data while roaming (in the case of Vodafone Australia customers you pay A50c per MB while roaming). Why weren't Vodafone first to the market with such an innovative offering? Vodafone market themselves as being the world's largest Mobile Community but several years on from their OneVodafone pitch they are still no closer to being "One Vodafone".
What did impress me however was the response of Paul Brislen, Vodafone's PR man, who was actively posting on both Geekzone and Rod's blog. There are plenty of big NZ companies who are still scared of the internet and who don't seem to believe that being involved in online forums or blogging has a part to play in modern business when I believe that exactly the opposite applies. While it can be hard to defend a company you work for when people are attacking you Paul did a great job of this and while I'm still annoyed by their plans I at least feel better knowing that my comments were seen by somebody who could pass those comments on to the appropiate people and potentially make a difference. I believe that companies being involved in online discussions is fantastic and would love to see more of this in future as I believe that there is absolutely no harm in free and frank discussion in regards to a companies products and services. Do companies really know who their customers are and whether they're happy or simply believe that's the case? The same can be said for corporate blogging. The concept of customer newsletters has been around for decades and yet many companies seem scared of moving into the 21st century and involving the internet and customer discussion as part of their business. Why? One can only wonder...
Good on you Paul (and Alison), hopefully this is a sign of a things to come.
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