Call centre and customer support staff at South Australian regional ISP SE Net have been made redundant following parent company OzEmail’s decision to consolidate the regional ISP subsidiary’s customer support services into its Sydney head office.
PC World sources revealed an unspecified number of staff from SE Net will be out of jobs by the end of April. Staff were informed of OzEmail’s decision to cut back operations at the South Australian subsidiary earlier this month.
OzEmail director of marketing Stephen Burns said the redundancies were a result of OzEmail’s decision to integrate all of its regional service functions into one central support office. While SE Net will still trade as an independent ISP, continuing to maintain an overlap in the company’s customer support and billing services with OzEmail’s core services in Sydney is not “financially viable”, he said.
Burns said the new changes would benefit SE Net customers by giving them access to 24-hour helpdesk support. Previously, SE Net’s South Australian office had only provided support between 8am to 10pm seven days a week, with reduced hours on public holidays. In addition, SE Net sales will still be available through its offices in South Australia, he said.
OzEmail acquired a 60 per cent stake in South Australia-based ISP SE Net in 1998, fully acquiring the company in April 2000. The regional ISP offers dial-up and broadband Internet products to residential and business customers in South Australia.
The closure of the SE Net branch will see all current SE Net customers migrated into OzEmail’s main customer service base, including its billing system. Sources said the migration will be undertaken towards the end of this month.
SE Net services should not be affected by change, and all customers will remain on their original SE Net plans, Burns said.
He added OzEmail will continue to utilise the SE Net brand in the South Australian market and retain SE Net’s sales staff.
“We are trying to make them cater to different users. SE Net is a local brand. People in South Australia prefer to do things differently to users in Sydney, Melbourne and even Brisbane.”
For example, SE Net offers customers different product options to OzEmail’s national Internet services, such as pay as you go and prepayment plans, Burns said. In comparison, OzEmail is set up to have ongoing payment plans – an easier and more manageable option for its 400,000 subscribers, he said.
Although he was unable to provide exact customer numbers, Burns said SE Net is one of the largest South Australian ISPs operating in the state, a fact which also added weight to the ISP’s brand name.
The decision to bring SE Net customer and helpdesk support into its Sydney office is the final step in OzEmail’s consolidation of its subsidiary services. Around 18 months ago, the ISP closed down its subsidiary PowerUp’s regional office in Queensland, redirecting PowerUp customer billing and support services to Sydney. Although the PowerUp name is still used, the regional service is identical to OzEmail’s, he said.
Burns said the focus for OzEmail over the next 12 months would be to expand its product offerings and make services more accessible to consumers. One way the ISP plans to achieve this is by introducing a lower $48.95 entry-level ADSL service to regional users across Australia later this month. OzEmail introduced the $48.95 256Kbps ADSL plan with a 400MB monthly download limit to metro areas in January this year.
The ISP is also looking at introducing incremental types of services to its users, and is in the process of testing a product which would allow users to send high-priority e-mails from their Internet browser over SMS to mobile phones, he said.