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Telco complaints ‘turning the corner’: TIO

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While complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) were up marginally for the year, they began dropping in the final quarter including across the National Broadband Network (NBN), the 2018 annual report has revealed.

Complaints increased by 6.2 percent year on year, but dropped by 17.8 percent quarter on quarter in Q4.

“I am pleased to report that the number of complaints about telecommunications services in Australia appear to be turning the corner, with complaints trending down in the latter part of the year,” Ombudsman Judi Jones said on Wednesday.

The decrease in complaints follows government action after NBN complaints previously tripled, Jones added, pointing to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s speed monitoring reports and repercussions for retailers not delivering on their speed promises, with Telstra, Optus, TPG, iiNet, Internode, Dodo, iPrimus, and Commander all having been forced to compensate tens of thousands of customers.

The TIO also attributed the complaints drop to Communications Minister Mitch Fifield’s roundtable with NBN and retailers; the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)’s new migration rules; NBN’s wholesale pricing changes; and the TIO’s own complaints-handling changes.

“I have consistently said the increase in complaints to my office over the last two years has not solely been driven by the rollout of the National Broadband Network,” Jones added.

“Complaints had increased in all service types, and it is pleasing to see complaints have started to decline across the board. Our new Responsive Complaints Service (commencing on 1 July 2018) is more flexible, is designed to get to the heart of each complaint more quickly, and focuses on resolution.”

For the year to June 30, the TIO received 167,831 complaints in total, with 146,958 from consumers and 20,433 from small business.

Mobile phone services made up 51,328 complaints; multiple services accounted for 49,875 complaints; internet services caused 46,703 complaints; landline phone services 18,736 complaints; and property 1,189 complaints.

For complaint types, customer service made up the most complaints, at 40 percent overall, followed by payment for a service at 36 percent; service delivery at 31 percent; establishing a service at 20.5 percent; and property at 1 percent.

Of all complaints about service quality, 47 percent were about services being delivered over the NBN, at 27,008 complaints; and of all connection and changing provider complaints, 58 percent were about NBN services, at 14,589.

However, these both dropped during the second half of the financial year despite more premises being activated, the TIO said.

Connection or changing provider complaints numbered 8,711 in July to December 2017, or 9.2 per thousand premises added to the NBN, and numbered 5,878 or nine per thousand premises added to the NBN for January to June 2018.

Service quality complaints dropped from 14,000 or 4.1 per thousand premises on the network from July to December 2017 down to 13,008 or 3.2 per thousand premises on the network from January to June 2018.

MyRepublic saw the steepest rise in complaints, up 102 percent from last year to 1,816 complaints to the Ombudsman during FY18. It was followed by Optus including Virgin Mobile, which saw complaints jump by 35 percent to 40,665; and Telstra, up by 7.7 percent during the year for a total of 82,528 complaints.

Southern Phone experienced the biggest decrease in complaints, down 28 percent to 1,484, followed by iiNet, which was down 24 percent to 7,719; TPG, down 11 percent to 6,248; Vodafone Australia, down 8.7 percent to 9,752; M2 Commander, down 8.2 percent to 1,565; and Dodo, down 5.7 percent to 3,120 complaints to the Ombudsman during FY18.

Primus remained relatively stagnant, up 0.1 percent to 1,918 complaints for the financial year.

Across the states, New South Wales clocked the most complaints, up 5 percent from last year to 52,989 complaints; Victoria was up 9 percent to 47,620 complaints; Queensland was up 13 percent to 32,820 complaints; Western Australia was up 11 percent to 15,075 complaints; South Australia was up 1 percent to 12,667 complaints; Tasmania was up 0.7 percent to 2,986 complaints; the Australian Capital Territory was down 5.6 percent to 2,466 complaints; and the Northern Territory was down 0.1 percent to 1,042 complaints.

Overall, the TIO commenced 17,236 conciliations during the year, with 88 percent of online complaints processed the same day; 52 possible systemic issues notified to providers; and 30 systemic matters resulting in the retailer agreeing to or making changes to their systems and processes.

While acknowledging the slight improvement in Q4, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) said it is “frustrated” with the TIO complaints increase.

“Although the last quarter has shown improvement, this is the third year in a row that the complaint numbers have climbed,” ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin said.

“It is time to draw a line in the sand — consumers deserve better from their telco providers.”

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Callaway Chevy Silverado SC602 Signature Edition trounces Ram TRX in a drag race

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American performance vehicle builder Callaway Cars has debuted its newest creation: The Chevy Silverado SC602 Signature Edition, now officially the best sleeper truck on the road. How fast? Hold your breath: This Chevy Silverado has trounced the mighty RAM TRX in a drag race. That’s saying a lot since Ram made it clear the TRX is “the quickest, fastest, and most powerful mass-produced truck in the world.”

But as it turns out, Callaway has other plans. The company has a long and cherished history of building quirky yet high-end performance cars like the C4 Corvette Sledgehammer and C7 Corvette AeroWagen. However, what we really love about the Silverado SC602 is the way it looks.

It may resemble a factory-stock Chevy Silverado from some angles, but there are telltale signs of the truck’s outstanding stoplight-to-stoplight ability. Like those 20 or 22-inch Callaway lightweight wheels, for instance, or the bevy of chrome Callaway exterior badging, including a bold CALLAWAY script on the carbon fiber front grille.

As with any Callaway vehicle, what matters most is hiding under the sheet metal. The SC602 starts life as a Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss, RST, LTZ, or High Country with a standard 6.2-liter V8 motor and four-wheel drive. Next, Callway installs a GenThree Eaton TVS R2650 Supercharger with a TripleCooled intercooler. The blower offers 15-percent more displacement yet requiring 18-percent less power output.

It doesn’t stop there. The truck also gets a high-flow intake, low-restriction stainless steel dual outlet exhausts with quad exhaust tips, and a bespoke Callaway ECU with custom tuning. After all the dirty engine work is complete, the Callaway Silverado SC60’s blown V8 is now pumping out 602 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque.

But wait, the Ram TRX’s Hellcat V8 makes 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, 100 more horses (and 90 more torques) than Callaway’s truck, so how did it trounce the Ram? Two words: weight and tires. The Silverado SC602 tips the scales at only 5,820 pounds (2640 kg), while the Ram TRX weighs around 7,080 (3,211 kg) pounds.

The result is nothing short of astonishing. The SC602 goes from zero to 60 mph in 4.3-seconds, zero to 100 mph in 9.80-seconds, and breaks the quarter-mile in 12.5-seconds @ 113 mph. Meanwhile, the Ram TRX goes from zero to 60 mph in 3.99-seconds, a bit quicker than the Chevy.

But the latter is faster from zero to 100 mph as the Ram needed 10.14 seconds to perform the deed, proof of the Callaway Silverado SC60’s mid to high-range pulling power. And yeah, those sticky performance tires were partly responsible for the Callaway’s drag strip prowess.

What’s more, the Silverado SC602 is 50-state emissions compliant and carries a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty to supplement Chevy’s bumper-to-bumper warranty. Other goodies include aluminum door sills, billet aluminum pedals, an Alcantara-covered horn cover, and ID plaques to let other people know you’re driving the genuine article.

How much? We have no idea. But you can get in touch with Callaway if you fancy the ultimate Ram-beating sleeper truck.

Callaway Chevy Silverado SC602 Signature Edition Gallery

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Ford reveals the custom 2021 Mustang Mach-E to be given away for charity

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Ford has supported various charities for a long time, often donating customized automobiles to be auctioned off. Each year Ford offers a customized car for the AirVenture charity, and typically that car is a Ford Mustang of some sort with a big V8 engine under the hood. This year, the car Ford is donating to the charity is a different kind of Mustang.

Ford has revealed the customized electric 2021 Mustang Mach-E that will be auctioned off this year. The vehicle was built to honor the sacrifices of Women Air Force Service Pilots. The special Mach-E is inspired by the female volunteer pilots and the planes they flew during World War II.

Proceeds from the vehicle auction support the EAA initiative to provide young women and underserved youths more access to careers in the aviation industry. Ford notes that it has worked with AirVenture for more than two decades and has donated 12 custom aviation-themed performance vehicles so far, raising a total of more than $4 million. 2021 marks the first year Ford has donated an electric vehicle.

The custom Mach-E was designed by Ford and has a custom paint scheme with military badging inspired by the warplanes the volunteers flew. Women Air Force Service Pilots flew almost every type of military aircraft in World War II as they rolled off the factory floor after assembly. Ford put badges, including the US Army Air Force star on both sides, wings logos on the hood and fender, and No. 38 on the front fascia, rear bumper, and inside the cabin.

That number represents the 38 volunteers who died serving their country. Women Air Force Service Pilots are a group of American volunteers who transported warplanes to US Army bases worldwide to be used in combat. The female pilots flew more than 60 million miles during the war and weren’t recognized as active military personnel until 1977 when the pilots were granted retroactive military status.

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This Porsche 911 Turbo S pays homage to Mexican driving ace Pedro Rodriguez

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In collaboration with Porsche Latin America, Porsche Mexico, and Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur, German automaker Porsche has built a custom 911 Turbo S in memory of the late, great Pedro Rodriguez. Rodriguez is the most successful Mexican racing driver of all time.

He walked away with 11 titles in the World Championship of Makes – now known as the World Endurance Championship – and helped Porsche capture the crown in 1970 and 1971 aboard a Porsche 917 KH in Gulf Oil livery. Rodriguez claimed two Formula Grand Prix wins, four wins in the 24 Hours of Daytona, and a victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans before losing his life in 1971 at the Norising street circuit in Nuremberg, Germany.

Fifty years on after that fateful and deadly crash, Porsche is reliving the glory days with a custom 911 Turbo S ‘One of a Kind’ Pedro Rodriguez. The car debuted at a Sportscar Together Day event at the Centro Alto Rendimineto in Toluca, Mexico, where it drew oohs and ahhs with its custom Gulf attire.

Porsche claims the 911 Turbo S ‘One of a Kind’ Pedro Rodriguez is, well, genuinely one of a kind. “This configuration, with these specific details and equipment, has been locked in the Porsche configurator, as well as in the production system, so that this car is literally unrepeatable,” said Camilo San Martin, Director of Porsche Mexico.

Wearing the iconic Gulf Blue paint with single orange striping, it also has custom high-gloss black wheels, an aluminum center lock, and a black number 2 in a white circle graphic on the doors and front hood. Look closely at the B-pillar and you’ll find a silhouette of the 917 KH race car wearing the colors off the Mexican flag, complete with the name and signature of Pedro Rodriguez.

Other bespoke elements include unique carbon moldings on the lower door frames (which illuminate when the doors are open), Graphite Blue leather seats with orange stitching, and an engraved tribute of the eight races that Rodriguez won aboard the Porsche 917 KH under the rear spoiler.

Also included are a Gulf Blue key fob (with Rodriguez’s signature) and a luggage set wearing the same blue and orange colors. It still has a turbocharged 3.8-liter flat-six pumping out 640 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque with an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox under the hood.

The Porsche 911 Turbo S Pedro Rodriguez will hit the auction block later this year. Porsche will donate the auction proceeds to various charities.

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