A customer living in a South Island town had intermittent network service. She lived on a main street, so she assumed that she was experiencing a fault with her phone rather than a network coverage issue. She looked at new phones online and purchased one from her provider’s website.

The new phone arrived, but she continued to experience the same network issues. She contacted her provider online who confirmed there were no reported outages and provided her with some troubleshooting steps which were unsuccessful. The provider suggested a SIM card swap may fix the issue and instructed her to visit a store.

The customer visited her provider’s store three times over the course of a week, completing a SIM card swap each time and then revisiting after returning home to discover the issue persisted. When she visited the store for a fourth time, a sales representative showed her the provider’s coverage map and she discovered her home was not in coverage, which was resulting in her not being able to receive calls or texts while at home.

She asked to return her phone and receive a refund for the handset. The provider declined as the phone was not faulty.

The customer contacted TDR for assistance. TDR appointed a resolution practitioner to assist with resolving this dispute. As the customer and provider could not reach an agreement together, the complaint progressed to adjudication where TDR can make a decision on the matter.

TDR gathered information from both parties and investigated two points: 

  1. if there was any misleading conduct on the part of provider, and
  2. whether the provider’s network guarantee applied.

TDR was satisfied that there was no evidence of misleading conduct on the part of the provider. When the handset was purchased online, there was no representation that coverage would be available in the customer’s address, in fact no indications were made as to the product’s coverage at all. This part of the complaint was not upheld.

TDR did find that the customer was entitled to return the phone and receive a refund under the provider’s guarantee. The provider’s guarantee stated that new or re-signing customers could make a claim about network issues within 30 days of date of purchase. As this customer had repeatedly made contact online and instore discussing network issues within this the 30-day period, TDR determined that the customer met the criteria of the guarantee and as such was entitled to return the handset, and receive a refund, under the guarantee.

This aspect of the complaint was upheld.