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Dissatisfied customers could mean unfriendly future for Telus

British Columbian cellphone users ranked the western-based company Telus Mobility the lowest in a national customer satisfaction survey released this week.

A J.D. Power and Associates survey saw 15,000 Canadians weigh in on their provider's "service and retail experience." Customers measured their satisfaction with cost of service, network quality, account management, customer service, handset, offerings and promotions and sales process.

The marketing firm broke down the findings into regions and discovered that customers were most dissatisfied with Telus Mobility in the "West Region," which is comprised of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

This came as a surprise to Telus media relations officer, Shawn Hall.

"There's a big regional discrepancy and I don't know what I would attribute that to, but that is one of those things we'll be taking a deep look at," said Hall.

The average customer satisfaction index rating for the west region was 634 out of 1000. Telus came in last at 613, while customers rated Saskatchewan-based SaskTel first, at 678. Virgin Mobile came second at 669 and Fido came third at 651.

Telus came fourth place, however, in both the Ontario region and the eastern region, with a satisfaction ranking of 633 and 682 respectively.

Hall said that "explosive" new smartphone data use and related customer demand could possibly be factors for the poor ratings. The survey echoed Hall, reporting that the percentage of customers who own a smart phone grew from 25 per cent in 2009 to 39 per cent, while the proportion of customers with data packages increased from 15 per cent in 2009 to 60 per cent.

Hall said that despite the widespread growth, Telus customers in British Columbia should rest assured that the company is taking "major steps."

"We’re hiring in the first six months this year -- and these are new net jobs -- 100 new customer service agents in Prince George, 250 people in Calgary, most of them customer care agents, a large number in Burnaby, too," said Hall.

Telus invested $1.7 billion to infrastructure nationally and $670 million of that in British Columbia, said Hall.

Telus was created in 1990 by the government of Alberta and has since grown into one of the largest mobility companies in Canada. But senior manager of J.D. Power and Associates Adrian Chung warned in a press release that established companies like Telus should not get too comfortable.

"28 per cent of customers 'strongly agree' that they would consider switching to one of the new wireless service providers (including WIND Mobile, Public Mobile and Mobilicity) if its offerings met their needs," wrote Chung.

"Up from 21 per cent in 2009."

Jamie Williams is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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