Telecommunications Dispute Resolution (TDR) report for 1 July 2020 – 30 June 2021
Telecommunications services are entrenched in all that we do, so when people have an issue with their mobile, home phone or internet it has a big impact on their lives. The TDR team take pride in the work we do – helping New Zealanders to resolve complaints with their telecommunications providers. It’s important work and the availability of a free and independent service makes a big difference.
This year TDR received 1940 enquiries, 30.7% less than the previous year. Many providers recognised the challenges facing their customers during the pandemic. They removed data caps, stopped referring debt to collections during lockdown, and they allowed more time to pay outstanding invoices. These changes made a big impact for their customers and resulted in less complaints to TDR. That being said, billing continues its reign as the top cause of complaints. The main issue we’ve seen this year is disputed charges on customer invoices. Customer service comes in second, with complaints about scheme members failing to action customer requests or keeping customers informed at the top of the list in this category. We have also seen a 658% increase in complaints about service interruption. These mainly related to congestion causing speed and connections to drop, likely due to the increased demand for services as more people work, study and stream from home. This is not currently an area within TDR's jurisdiction. The TCF are undertaking a review of the Customer Complaints Code so this may be an area for change in 2022.
The 30% reduction in enquiries has resulted in 30% less complaints progressing to TDR’s formal process than last year. TDR resolved 1961 cases, including some cases that carried over from the previous reporting year. 98% were resolved in our early phase. Only two percent required more formal intervention. For these 36 cases, there was an even split between complaints resolved consensually, by facilitation and mediation, and cases requiring a decision made by an adjudicator. Typically, if a complaint reaches adjudication parties are well entrenched in their opinion and requested resolution. TDR Resolution Practitioners must carefully weigh the issue at hand, the history of the complaint, the contractual and legal requirements of both parties as well as what is fair in the circumstances relevant to the complaint. This year, half of all adjudicated matters were upheld or partially upheld in favour of the consumer.
It is important that all Kiwis know they have access to a free and independent service. TDR is here to help them resolve their issue quickly whenever they might need us.