Summary of the issue
At times, a customer may be uncertain as to whether a Scheme Member can undertake, or continue to pursue, collections action (debt collection) on accounts that are the subject of a complaint to the TDR.
Usual positions of the parties
The Customer may be concerned that collections activity will occur on their account that is in dispute, and concerned that may result in a demand for payment or an adverse credit history.
The Scheme Member may be uncertain as to whether it can commence or continue credit recovery, while a dispute is in progress.
TDR's view of the issue
The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum Customer Complaints Code requires that Scheme Members not "... commence credit recovery action until the (TDR) process is completed".
TDR interprets that restriction to only apply to billing disputes, and that if credit recovery has been commenced, it would need to be suspended while the dispute is with the TDR.
While Scheme Members typically have different policies regarding the time for suspending collections activity must be suspended once the Customer's written complaint is received by TDR and provided to the Scheme Member. That only occurs when the complaint reaches the 'deadlock stage'. *
TDR expects and will advise the Customer to pay any amounts in the account that are not disputed.
*TDR may determine a complaint is deadlocked if it's been six weeks or more since the customer contacted their phone or internet provider and the customer still doesn't have a resolution that they are happy with, or if a complaint raised with a scheme member by TDR remains unresolved after 15 working days, whichever comes first. When determining deadlock, TDR will take into consideration the complexity of the issue, the desired resolution, as well as whether escalating the matter will assist in resolving the complaint.