The customer received a notification that their landline phone provider would be withdrawing copper-based services in 6-weeks’ time. The customer, hoping to retain their copper-based landline, contacted TDR in order to prevent the disconnection of their phone service.

The customer considered the disconnection of their copper-based landline to be unlawful and requested for it to be reinstated. She raised concerns about the 6-week notice period that was given. She also complained about the customer service that she had received while communicating with her provider about the dispute. She believed the cancellation was unfair and distressing.

The provider explained that they were no longer using the ageing copper network, instead offering more modern broadband and phone services.  The provider explained that they were not obligated to continue providing copper services and that at the point of time of the dispute, they had no obligation to provide a longer notice period. However, having reviewed the file and communications, they accepted that there had been customer service failings on their side.

As the customer and their provider were not able to reach a mutual resolution, TDR proceeded this complaint through to the formal stage of the process, where both parties agreed to progress directly to adjudication.

The TDR adjudicator considered the terms and conditions of the customer’s contract, which included a clause that allowed for changes and noted a 30-day notice period would apply. The adjudicator confirmed that the provider had given adequate notice and contractually could make changes to the plan and services provided.

TDR considered the customer’s claim that the disconnection was unlawful as the provider did not follow guidelines that had been issued by the Commerce Commission, creating an interim expectation that providers would provide a 4-month notice period prior to disconnection in anticipation for the Copper and PSTN Transition Code coming into effect.

TDR found that there was no enforceable obligation imposed on the provider through this expectation, pointing to the fact that at this point in time guidelines were issued and were voluntary in nature, and as such no binding obligation applied. Subsequently, the Copper and PSTN Transition Code came into effect which created mandatory obligations, however this Code did not apply at the point of notice and disconnection.

TDR did find that there had been customer service failings from the provider and awarded in favour of the customer in that regard. The adjudicator directed the provider to issue a formal apology to the customer within 10 working days.