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Commerce Commission releases draft report on telco dispute scheme

By Shannon Williams, 01 Sep 2021

The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum is welcoming the release of the draft report on recommendations for improvements of the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme from the Commerce Commission.

"The telecommunications industry is looking forward to working collaboratively and constructively with the Commerce Commission over the coming months to address the areas of concern reflected in the initial review," says New Zealand Telecommunications Forum chief executive officer Paul Brislen.

“The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum has already started work on a number of improvement measures for the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme that the Commerce Commission has included in this draft, including a review of the Customer Complaints Code, reviewing governance arrangements and significantly increasing the 2021/2022 marketing budget to boost consumer awareness of the scheme," he explains.

The Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme is an independent service, free for residential and small business customers, which helps consumers resolve complaints with their telecommunications provider.

“The number of users of telecommunications has grown significantly over the past two decades," says Brislen.

"New Zealand has more than 6.2 million mobile connections, and 1.79 million fixed connections, and that number is steadily growing," he says.

“On top of that, the way we use telecommunications has changed entirely in the same time. From making voice calls and sending text messages, the industry now enables online banking, video calling, remote working, entertainment of all kinds, education and learning opportunities and much, much more," Brislen adds.

"I can’t think of another industry that has so many different touch points with so many customers.”

Due to recent changes to the Telecommunications Act, the Commerce Commission is required to review the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme at least once every three years. The Commerce Commission published an issues paper this week and has to complete its review by 13 November 2021.

The number of complaints received by the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme has grown on average by 14% year on year. In 2019/20, the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme resolved 2,812 complaints and enquiries from consumers. Of those, 98 percent of the enquiries were resolved promptly with service providers working directly with customers.

“The fact that only two percent of all complaints raised resulted in formal complaints to the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme is a very good indication that New Zealanders are on the whole receiving good customer service from their providers,” says Brislen.

 The NZ Telecommunications Forum was established in 2002. It plays a vital role in the telecommunications industry in New Zealand, collaboratively developing key industry standards and codes of practice that underpin the country’s digital economy. Its objective is to actively foster cooperation among the telecommunications industry’s participants, to enable the efficient provision of regulated and non-regulated telecommunications services.

TCF Members include: 2degrees, AWACS, Chorus, Enable Networks, Kordia, Northpower Fibre, NOW, Spark, Symbio Networks, Trustpower, Ultrafast Fibre, UnisonFibre, Vector Communications, Vocus Communications and Vodafone. WISPA-NZ, which represents 28 Wireless Internet Service Providers, is an Associate Member of TCF.

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