TDR Annual Report Press Release

Friday, March 6, 2009

A copy of the release can be download at the bottom of the page.

TDR Annual Report – Call Targets Exceeded, More Members Needed

High Call Volumes and Complaint Types

The number of calls coming into the newly-developed Telecommunication Dispute Resolution scheme has exceeded its target by nearly 40 per cent in the first year of its operation.

The scheme released its Annual Report today, which includes information about how many calls were received in its first year, and what the calls were about.  TDR received 1396 calls, when it had projected there would be only 1000.

The majority were complaints about billing (34%). Most of these were about disputed amounts and responsibility for payment. There were also complaints about data usage, credit adjustment issues and account errors.

The next two most common types of complaint were about customer service (18%) and faults (15%).

Over 38 percent of the year’s total number of calls were unable to be progressed however, because the consumer hadn’t first made their complaint to their telecommunication company – one of the requirements of using TDR.

The TDR service was implemented and is managed by Dispute Resolution Services Ltd (DRSL). DRSL General Manager Neil McKellar said there had been a significant increase in this type of call over the first year.

“This shows more consumers have become aware of the existence of TDR but not necessarily the details of the Scheme,” he said.

TDR can only help with complaints where the telecommunication company is a member of the TDR scheme, and where the consumer has already made the complaint to the company involved. Scheme Members are responsible for promoting TDR to their customers.

Systemic Issues

The TDR scheme is also tasked with identifying systemic issues in the telecommunication industry. TDR results show there are four areas of concern; complaint handling, contracts, damage to mobile phones and problems for customers who are using more than one telecommunication provider.

Mr McKellar said it was clear from the calls received by the scheme showed that there needed to be more information for consumers about what constitutes a complaint and more consistency was needed across the industry regarding how complaints are handled.

Council Chairman Comments

The TDR Council’s chairman, consumer advocate David Russell, said two aspects of the scheme’s first year of operation had impressed him. One was the responsible attitude the Scheme Members had taken to resolving disputes. The lack of cases that made their way through the four-tier dispute resolution process made it clear that Scheme Members’ internal complaint handling processes were working well.

Mr Russell also said he was impressed with the management of the Scheme. The scheme agent, Dispute Resolution Services Ltd. (DRSL) was operating the scheme efficiently and fairly he said, which was borne out by the very high ‘recommendation rating’ – 92% of surveyed consumers said they would recommend TDR.

However Mr Russell expressed some concern about willingness of some telecommunication companies to join the scheme.

“A lack of full industry acceptance of the Scheme is another matter to be tackled. Self-regulatory industry/consumer complaint handling schemes, when soundly based on an equal partnership, are efficient, adaptable to change and very cost effective.

However, for self-regulatory schemes to work there needs to be participation of all major companies in a sector, supported by a very high sign-up by smaller operators,” he said.

The companies that have signed up to TDR account for more than 98% of the total residential and small business telecommunication consumer market, but Mr Russell said he was seriously concerned that those companies that had not joined were not showing the commitment to customer service.

“Ideally we would like TDR to provide coverage to all residential and small business telecommunication consumers”, he said.

Statistics

  • Majority of calls were from Auckland and Wellington.
  • 94% of calls resolved within eight business hours
  • 80% of calls answered within 20 seconds
  • Total cost to run TDR scheme for the year; $430,000

History & Operation

TDR is a free service, which can be used by any residential or small business consumer whose telecommunications company is a member of the TDR scheme.

Consumers must have raised their complaint with their telecommunication company first, and given the company a chance to respond. If the consumer is not happy with the outcome or it has taken more than six weeks to resolve, TDR can get involved.

The service has been established by the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) – a collective of telecommunication companies – along with leading consumer advocates such as Consumers’ Institute, TUANZ and Citizens Advice Bureaux.

The TCF established the TDR Council, made up of half industry and half consumer representatives, to provide the overall governance of the service.

A full copy of the quarterly report can be found on the TDR website www.tdr.org.nz.