Call centre and customer support staff at South Australian regiona,l 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.
IDG sources revealed an unspecified number of staff from SE Net will lose their jobs by the end of April. Staff were informed of OzEmail’s decision to cut back operations at the SS subsidiary earlier this month.
OzEmail director of marketing, Steven 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 would 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 was 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 would 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 May 2000. The regional ISP offers dial-up and broadband Internet products to residential and business customers in SA.
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 would remain on their original SE Net plans, Burns said.
He said OzEmail would continue to use the SE Net brand in the SA market and retain SE Net’s sales staff.
“We are trying to make them cater to different users," Burns said. "SE Net is a local brand. People in SA prefer to do things differently to users in Sydney, Melbourne and even Brisbane.”
For example, SE Net offered customers different product options to OzEmail’s national Internet services, such as pay as you go and prepayment plans, Burns said.
By comparison, OzEmail was 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 was 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. About 18 months ago, the ISP closed down the Queensland regional office of its subsidiary PowerUp, redirecting PowerUp customer billing and support services to Sydney.
Although the PowerUp name was still used, the regional service was 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 was also looking at introducing incremental types of services to its users, and was in the process of testing a product which would allow users to send high-priority emails from their Internet browser over SMS to mobile phones, he said.