The majority of New Zealanders have access to a mobile phone, which means you can call 111 anytime. However, some New Zealanders only have a home phone or live in areas where there is no mobile reception. If their home phone works using a digital voice technology, they might need an alternative method of contacting 111 during a power cut.
The Commerce Commission has developed the new 111 Contact Code. Next year, providers of retail landline services need to make their customers aware that if their home phone uses a digital voice technology it may not work during a power cut and encourage them to think about alternative methods.
Providers must take extra steps to ensure that vulnerable consumers, such as those with a known medical condition, are able to contact emergency services in a power cut. Providers will work with those consumers to make sure they have a suitable arrangement, such as a back-up power supply or mobile phone, before August 2021.
If there is a disagreement between a customer, or consumer, and a provider under the 111 Contact Code, the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution (TDR) service can help.
What is it?
The Commerce Commission has released the 111 Contact Code which aims to ensure that vulnerable consumers have reasonable access to an appropriate means of contacting 111 emergency services in the event of a power failure to their premises.
Who does it apply to?
The Code applies to consumers of retail landline services, who have a particular risk of requiring 111 emergency services, and do not have a means to contact 111 emergency services during a power cut.
How do I know if my landline won’t work in a power cut?
Your landline service may be connected to either the copper, fibre or fixed wireless networks. If your landline uses digital voice technology, often referred to as VoIP (voice over internet protocol) it will require power to work. You can usually tell because your home phone needs to be plugged into your mains power to work. What this means is during a power cut, your broadband will stop working and you will not be able to make or receive calls over your home phone. Alternative options like having a mobile phone available or having a battery back up installed will enable you to still make a phone call during a power cut.
Can TDR help with disputes?
TDR provides free and independent help to resolve disputes with phone and internet providers. Disagreements in relation to the rights and obligations of the parties under the Code can be referred to TDR if they remain unresolved after 5 working days.
What do I need to do?
If you believe you meet the criteria as a vulnerable consumer (see Section F of the Code) and you feel that your retailer has not met its obligations the first step it to contact your retailer.
If, after five days you don’t believe the dispute has been resolved satisfactorily, TDR can assist. You can get in touch by:
- Free phone: 0508 98 98 98
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Online: TDR complaint form
What’s happening next?
The full Code comes into force on 1 August 2021, although providers are required to inform their customers about options available for those that are vulnerable and how consumers can apply to be noted as a vulnerable consumer earlier than this.
What’s the difference between a customer and a consumer?
- A customer has a contract with a provider for the supply of a retail landline service.
- A consumer is defined as the end-user of the service. A consumer can be the customer, or, a person who ordinarily resides at the premises where the retail landline service is supplied.
Where can I find more information?
Keep a look out on your invoices and for correspondence from your provider for updates.
For a short summary of the Code and timelines, click here to visit the TCF website.
Additionally, you can find more information including the 111 Contact Code itself on the Commerce Commissions website here