Vodafone is tightening its credit policy as it shifts away from servicing thousands of customers who live in regions with poor reception.
While unhappy customers will be able to receive full refunds if they persist with their complaints, internal documents show the telco wants to reduce the number of credits it hands out.
The new credits policy, in which the company acknowledges it's coverage is ''still far from where we want to be'', advises staff they ''must look to resolve a customer's issue first and without a credit''.
Vodafone customers should persist with complaints if they want their phone account credited for poor reception, data problems and/or international roaming charges.
Depending on the problem, customers could be offered a 25 per cent credit as part of what the company calls a ''first point resolution'', before the offer is increased to 50 per cent for those still dissatisfied.
Customers who persist might eventually be offered a 100 per cent credit to prevent them from leaving. Almost half a million customers left Vodafone Hutchison Australia last year, when the company lost $800 million.
In the policy, introduced earlier this month, the company acknowledges ''we are still far from where we want to be''.
It adds: ''We are not getting everything right but every day the inroads we are making are not insignificant. In tandem with seeing these improvements come through, we also need to 'rethink' what is fair and reasonable with regard to our credit policy on network issues.
''And on this basis … our frontline tech support teams will no longer be able to apply credits to a customer's account for reasons of network.''
A Vodafone spokeswoman said that while the ''vast majority'' of customers were happy with the company, ''ultimately, if we are unable to service a customer due to a lack of infrastructure where they live or work, we're better to let them go''.
Included in the new policy are several scenarios of what customers might say when they complain.
Suggested responses staff should give are also provided, including: ''I can sense that you are quite concerned about you receiving a bill even though you feel that the coverage is poor, however, I must tell you that every account is different and is handled differently.''
Customers who persist might eventually be offered a 100 per cent credit to prevent them from leaving.
Teresa Corbin Australian Communications Consumer Action Network chief executive said: ''It's not OK to have one system for customers who know their rights and another system for those who don't.
''We will be taking this up directly with Vodafone to see if this really is how they handle customer complaints. And if this is the case we will request the ACMA investigate whether the Vodafone policy complies with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code.''