Jurisdiction decisions

A selection of jurisdiction decisions from 2021

TDR can assist with complaints under the Customer Complaints Code, the 111 Contact Code and the Copper Withdrawal Code. If the complaint falls outside of the matters included in these three codes, the complaint is outside of TDR’s jurisdiction, so TDR is unable to assist.

Determining jurisdiction is when TDR decides if a complaint is within our ability to assist, or if any exclusions within the codes apply. Here is a selection of jurisdiction decisions from 2021:

Accepted within jurisdiction

TDR No. 045400 – connection complaint within jurisdiction

Complaint summary

While the Customer was raising a complaint to their Provider about their bill, the Provider noticed their broadband connection should not have been allowed at their rural address. It was sold to them in error. The Provider gave the customer a letter to advise their connection would be cancelled in 30 days. This distressed the customer as the internet was vital to their family. They asked if the Provider could wait until an alternative network had been connected before cancelling. The Provider believed they could not continue the use of this service any longer because of the disruption to the area. They also felt this complaint was out of TDR’s jurisdiction as it related to network coverage.

Jurisdiction decision

This complaint was deemed within jurisdiction as it was largely about customer service and expectations, and is a complaint that TDR can accept for mediation/adjudication under the Customer Complaints Code (the Code).  The Provider suggested this complaint was outside the Code; under clause 18.1.6. as it related to the extent of network coverage. That type of complaint is outside the scope of the Code. However, the basis of this complaint, as noted above, is about customer service. It is about whether the Provider has met its obligations in terms of the principles outlined in the Code, in particular clause 5 which includes:

Providers will treat Customers with respect and in a fair and courteous manner at all times
All information given to the Customer will be accurate, up-to-date and in plain English, acknowledging telecommunications technology is fast moving and complex
Providers will be clear in their communications to Customers
Providers will deliver on promises.

 

TDR No. 45177 – cable repair charges within jurisdiction

Complaint summary

The Customer’s internet stopped working, so they contacted their Retail Service Provider. The Retail Service Provider arranged a technician from the Wholesale Provider who restored the Customer’s internet connection. The technician noted damage to the cable and the Wholesale Provider claims the Customer is liable for the network damage repair charges. The Customer is disputing the charges of $626.14 from the Wholesale Provider. The Customer advised the technician did not inform them of any charges before proceeding with the work and does not accept responsibility for the cable damage.

The Retail Service Provider advised they are a third party to this complaint, as this is a fault with the cable that the Wholesale Service Provider have billed to the Customer directly as part of the fibre service agreement.

Jurisdiction decision

This complaint was deemed within jurisdiction as it was largely about customer service, terms and conditions and expectations. The Wholesale Provider suggested this complaint was outside the Customer Complaints Code under Code Exclusion: 18.1.5. if it relates to the level of charges Providers choose to set. However, this complaint was not about the level of charges but whether the charges should have been made at all given the Wholesale Provider provided no notice of the charges. It also appears that the Customer did not receive the first account notice. While this complaint was largely against the Wholesale Provider, the Retail Service Provider had to be a party to the complaint.

 

TDR No. 45002 – vulnerable customer within jurisdiction

Complaint summary

The copper network was being replaced with fibre in the Customer’s area. The Customer wanted their homephone Provider to list them as a Vulnerable Customer and provide them with an alternate means of contacting 111 in the event of an emergency during a power cut. The Provider offered vulnerable customers a mobile phone as an alternative means. The Customer wanted a backup battery pack and did not believe a mobile phone was a viable alternative.

The Provider, a retail service provider, do not believe this complaint falls under TDR jurisdiction as the copper network shutdown is outside of their control. They also claim the Customer has refused to engage with the Provider or otherwise acted in bad faith in relation to attempting to resolve the matter with the Provider and attempting to resolve the Complaint. The Provider also believed the Customer had multiple connection options, not just fibre. They believed the complaint should be considered frivolous or vexatious or trivial.

Jurisdiction decision

This complaint was deemed within jurisdiction as it was about customer service and communication. TDR did not agree that it was frivolous, trivial or vexatious. The Customer Complaints Code notes that “a Scheme Member must exercise caution not to dismiss complaints as frivolous or vexatious without due consideration and, where appropriate, escalation.” The procedure is outlined in the Code. Here, the customer simply did not agree with the Provider’s assessment of the complaint. TDR does not believe it is the intent of the code to put such disagreements into the frivolous, trivial or vexatious category. Nor does it appear that the Customer refused to engage with the Provider. Again, there would seem to be communication issues and the parties appeared to be talking at cross purposes. Mediation/Adjudication is considered helpful in these circumstances.

 

TDR No. 029651 – broadband complaint within jurisdiction

Complaint summary

The Customer made a complaint about customer service, disputed charges and internet speed. The Provider had failed to install VDSL broadband and the customer frequently experienced slow broadband speeds due to their home being too far from the local exchange. The Customer sought monetary compensation for the issues experienced. The Provider believed they had acted with urgency to process every order and fault investigation that was raised by the Customer. The Provider stated that this complaint should not be referred to TDR based on 18.1.21 of the TCF Customer Complaints Code, which excludes complaints related to “Broadband congestion or speed, unless the Broadband service is sold with a Committed Information Rate” and as the customer wished for compensation. The Provider did acknowledge that this was an unpleasant experience for the Customer offered a credit of $167.92 to cover two months’ rental for the plan they are subscribed to.

Jurisdiction decision

This complaint was deemed within jurisdiction as it was about customer service and terms and conditions. The Provider suggested an exclusion under 18.1.21 of the Customer Complaints Code, which excludes complaints related to Broadband congestion or speed, unless the Broadband service is sold with a Committed Information Rate. While this is correct, the customer’s complaint encompasses more than just the broadband rate. It was about customer service and terms and conditions. It was about whether the Provider met its obligations in terms of the principles outlined in the Customer Complaints Code, in particular clause 5.

In order for a compensation request to be outside or not within the scope of TDR, the exclusion would need to fit with one or more of the items in Clauses 17 and 18 of the Customer Complaints Code. The reason provided by the Provider is not a reason outlined in Clauses 17 and 18 of the Customer Complaints Code. It was accepted that while a TDR adjudicator may not be able to award such costs, it is still open to the Provider to make such an award at its discretion. As it stands it appears that the Provider has offered a credit. Mediation/Adjudication would be helpful in these circumstances.

 

TDR No. 045478 – fibre installation within jurisdiction

Complaint summary

This complaint is about fibre installation delays and customer service, involving both a Retail Service Provider and Wholesale Provider. The Customer placed an order for fibre and multiple installation dates were missed without warning. The Wholesale Provider was experiencing some issues, including alert levels changes and shortage of skills and materials. They were unable to complete the installation in a speedy manner. They apologised for the delays and provided reassurances that the job would be completed.

The Retail Service Provider acknowledged this issue had been ongoing and offered a one-off goodwill credit of $300 towards customer’s account once fibre is installed and activated.

Jurisdiction decision

This was within jurisdiction of the Code. It was about customer service and expectations of both the Wholesale and Retail Service Providers. There are no exclusions under the Code.

 

Declined outside jurisdiction

TDR No. 045243 – issue over 12 months outside jurisdiction

Complaint summary

A small business customer approached TDR to dispute various charges applied to their account between May 2019 to October 2021. A request had also been made to disconnect various landline numbers, but they continued to be active.

The Provider had applied credit where they felt was applicable but believes the Customer never made sufficient confirmation to disconnect the landline service.

Jurisdiction decision

This complaint was deemed not within jurisdiction for the following reasons. The Customer asked the scheme member to disconnect a service in 2019. However, the complainant continued to be charged for this service through 2019 and beyond. It was not until 2021 that the complainant sought to resolve this. TDR cannot consider complaints if the complaint is not made to TDR within 12 months of the Customer’s initial discovery of the matter being complained about (clause 17.10.4 of Customer Complaints Code). The complainant would have been aware or should have been aware of the disputed charges well outside the 12 months required for a complaint to be made to TDR. Therefore, TDR had no jurisdiction to consider this complaint.

 

TDR No. 045209 – plan change outside jurisdiction

Complaint summary

The Customer approached TDR as he had been provided notice that his plan was going to change, and he would be no longer able to receive a free streaming service subscription. They questioned whether the Provider was able to do this lawfully as they would be unilaterally changing his contract with them.

The Provider stated that it is within their terms and conditions to make variations if 30 days’ notice is given. They also suggested a cheaper plan in line with the customer’s needs so that if they were to pay for the streaming service directly the total would be less than what they are currently paying.

Jurisdiction decision

This complaint was deemed not within jurisdiction for the following reasons. Under clause 17 of the Customer Complaints Code it was not reasonable in the circumstances to proceed with accepting the Complaint. The Provider was well within its terms and conditions, which the Customer would have agreed to, that it can change its plans and services given 30 days’ notice. It appeared in this case notice was given of the change and the Customer had an opportunity to determine the best plan or to leave the Provider. The Provider indicated that should the Customer wish to terminate the connection altogether, the Provider would waive the 30-day disconnection notice period requirements.