Angry Amaysim customers have become the latest casualty of the national broadband rollout and the myriad of teething issues it has faced as it expands across the country.
Amaysim is largely known for being a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that provides customers with a bring-your-own-phone mobile service that rents on the Optus network. The company also provides energy plans and, until recently, home internet plans.
But in late October customers who had signed up with the company for a home internet package when the NBN came to town were told they were being moved on.
Amaysim officially stopped selling home broadband services on October 26 and its customers were transferred to a new provider, Southern Phone, throughout the month of November.
“We’ll take care of everything during the automatic transfer to Southern Phone and we don’t expect any changes to your service,” customers were told in an email.
In an effort to smooth the transition, they were told they’d receive a 50 per cent discount for the first and fourth month with their new provider. But a number of end users have been left in limbo with no internet service and say dealing with the customer service at Amaysim has been a nightmare as they try to deal with the bungled transfer.
Sydney woman Elle Kalloli has been a happy mobile customer with Amaysim but has been left frustrated and without home internet since Saturday December 1. “That was when I was officially migrated over,” she told news.com.au. “But I’ve had no internet since.”
Despite being left without any service she has still had money deducted from her account a few days later for the new prepaid service.
Her frustration at having her personal information and account details shared with a new company without her authorisation has been matched only by the frustration of having to spend hours on hold with her new provider in order to cancel her Southern Phone service.
“There was no way we could’ve opted out of it. There was no choice that was given,” she said.
“I was on hold for two hours on Monday and kept hearing how they’ve been around since 2002 … But I’ve never even herd of them to be honest.
“It was just a really frustrating experience.”
Other Amaysim customers have complained of having a similar experience on the company’s Facebook page.
“So Amaysim sells their internet business to Southern Phone and we don’t get advised till after the fact. We are not asked for a opt in or out however, all personal info given to Southern Phone,” complained one customer named Matt yesterday. “Plus we have no service.”
Others have also taken to the company’s social media page to complain of being left with no internet connection.
“I am so disappointed with the way Amaysim handled the transfer to the new home internet company. We were literally dumped from one day to another. Currently without internet for over a week now,” wrote Facebook user Laura.
News.com.au attempted to contact these users but did not receive a response.
After jumping into the home broadband market on the back of the NBN rollout, Amaysim has blamed its decision to pull out on the high costs charged by the network wholesaler, making it hard for smaller retail providers to compete.
“The decision to exit broadband was not taken lightly,” the company told news.com.au in a statement.
Amaysim said the decision was caused by its “inability to provide our customers with a world-class product at a reasonable price due to the slow speed and poor quality of the NBN rollout and the punitive wholesale costs imposed by the NBN.”
The pricing structure of NBN Co. and how it charges ISPs like Telstra, TPG and Amaysim to access its network has been a work in progress in recent years.
In July it launched a new virtual interface to address concerns that larger telcos were dominating the NBN landscape because they could afford to pay to access all 121 points of interconnect (POIs) on the network to deliver service to end users across the country. The update means the smaller providers don’t necessarily have to incur the added cost.
Nonetheless, Amaysim has blamed the NBN wholesaler for having to pull out of the market.
“What was meant to be an even playing field is entirely skewed to the incumbents with significant scale and means smaller participants struggle to make the numbers work,” the company said.
Amaysim said it is not in a position to continue investing in a business “that we can’t see a clear path to profitable growth in the short to medium term”.