As the coronavirus pandemic forced us to hunker down at home last year, Australians relied on their internet and phones to keep them connected and energy providers to keep the power on.
When it comes to these essential services, whether it’s a bargain price or good service that you prize most, it pays to shop around.
Market research firm Roy Morgan’s recently announced 2020 customer satisfaction awards provided a guide for consumers looking to find the right for provider for essential services.
And across the board, it was smaller companies that came out ahead of major players.
Mobile phone plans
ALDIMobile won Roy Morgan’s Mobile Phone Service Provider of the Year award after taking out nine monthly customer satisfaction awards in 2020, in a win for smaller phone providers challenging the major players.
Earlier this week, the consumer watchdog urged mobile customers to consider switching off from big providers if they aren’t getting the best deal.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Rod Sims said big telcos has raised prices since the TPG-Vodafone merger was allowed by the Federal Court last June, and encouraged customers to shop around.
Together, Telstra, Optus and TPG-Vodafone command 87 per cent of Australia’s mobile retail market, and all three have increased prices on pre-paid and post-paid plans in the past year, the ACCC found.
“You can go to Aldi, Belong or Amaysim,” Mr Sims said.
“They’ve all got $25-a-month plans and they give you over 15GB of data, which is more than average usage.”
Aussie Broadband is another small player that overcame the might of Optus and Telstra to clinch the award for Internet Provider of the Year.
“Not only did Aussie Broadband win the category for the first time – in a year in which having a secure internet connection was more important than ever with millions of Australians spending considerable time working from home – but the ‘upstart’ (formed in 2008) provider won all 12 monthly customer satisfaction awards and had an average customer satisfaction rating of 91 per cent,” Roy Morgan chief executive Michele Levine said.
Apple’s iPhone continued its run of domination, winning its eighth Mobile Handset of the Year award.
The iPhone reclaimed its crown after being defeated in the previous year’s awards by the Google Pixel.
Apple’s iPhone 12 series was released in November and is the latest iteration of the iconic smartphone.
“The Mobile Handset category was the only one in which multiple monthly winners achieved an average customer satisfaction rating above 90 per cent,” Ms Levine said.
“Apple iPhone’s exceptional average customer satisfaction rating of 94.1 per cent was enough for third overall in the ‘Best of the Best’ Award.”
While the Apple smartphone is a firm favourite for many, it’s also one of the priciest, with an iPhone 12 mini starting at $1199 and the iPhone 12 pro starting at $1699.
Powershop took out Electricity Provider of the Year for the second year in a row after picking up all 12 monthly customer satisfaction awards in 2020.
Elgas won the title of Gas Provider of the Year for the first time after winning eight monthly customer satisfaction awards in 2020.
Despite the win, Elgas has not been free of controversy.
In March, the firm was fined more than half a million dollars over a 2015 explosion in New South Wales that left two people with serious burns.
A NSW District Court ordered Elgas to pay $525,000 plus costs.
“The offender failed to ensure that the relevant instructions were being followed through the supervision of the drivers during the LPG deliveries,” Judge Andrew Scotting said.
Internode took out the Home Phone Provider of the Year for the second year in a row after winning seven monthly customer satisfaction awards in 2020.
Founded in 1991, the firm was taken over by TPG Telecom last year.