Alisi* was excited about getting fibre through her telecommunications provider, but not so excited about the fact that the fibre installation would be an aerial one. This meant that her internet would be connected via an aerial on her roof. She discussed this with the fibre installer who explained that it was the only free option available. Alisi agreed to the installation, though she made it clear that a buried cable or underground duct was her preferred option.

A few weeks after the installation was completed, she was chatting with her neighbour about how great it was to have fibre. Alisi noticed that her neighbour didn’t have an aerial connection and asked about it. Her neighbour shared that she had had her fibre installed underground by the same company and did not have to pay extra for it.

Alisi was upset and contacted TDR to complain about her telecommunications provider. She wanted the existing aerial installation to be converted to an underground installation without charge.

Because the telecommunications provider was not the provider of the fibre, it had no control over the placement of fbre or the charges associated how it was placed. Therefore, TDR got the fibre installer (what TDR calls a ‘Wholesale Scheme Member’) involved in the case. All fibre installers in New Zealand are also members of TDR for precisely this reason.

The fibre installer stated that they had installed Alisi’s fbre as required by the plan. The installer noted that the neighbour’s fibre had been incorrectly installed, as the contractor had exceeded his authority in altering the plan (which also called for an aerial) at the request of the neighbour and without cost. Alisi wasn’t satisfied with that response. From her perspective, if the fibre installer had been able to make an exception for her neighbour, then they could make an exception for her as well.

The case was assigned to one of our dispute resolution practitioners. The parties attempted to mediate the issues, but were not able to reach agreement. It was then up to the practitioner to act as an adjudicator and make a decision on the complaint.

The adjudicator listened to both sides and reviewed all of the documents. While the adjudicator had sympathy for Alisi’s position, she noted that the aerial installation was the standard free installation method. She also determined that it would not be legally correct to carry out a further “incorrect” installation simply because the original contractor exceeded his authority when installing the neighbour’s fibre. On that basis, the adjudicator determined that the fibre installer’s decision not to change the customer’s fibre without charge was correct.

*Names have been changed to protect our customers’ identities