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The Commerce Commission wants you

Paul Brislen, Editor. 26 June 2019, 7:08 am

Having sorted out many of the big ticket items in the telecommunications market (competition, favouritism, access), the Commerce Commission is asking New Zealanders to report in on what they like and dislike about their broadband and phone services.

"We want to know what New Zealanders like about their phone and broadband and about the things that frustrate them. We also want to know what information is useful to help them make choices about what providers and services they sign up to," Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale says in a press release.

The Commission will hold a series of workshops around the country to "help decide that information that it will collect and how it will collect it" and will also figure out how to make that information more easily accessible to consumers.

The move comes after Parliament directed the Commission to collect and report on the quality of the service consumers receive from their telcos.

This comes after many years of trying to get telcos to use plain language, to avoid misleading customers, to sort out their processes so periods of free or discounted offerings actually are free or discounted and to get the telcos to stop putting out misleading advertising.

In the mid 2010s, then-communications Minister, Amy Adams, demanded the industry put together a unified approach to marketing of their products so customers would all have a way to compare products across providers. After many months of work nothing much came of the project and the next communications Minister expressed little interest in it.

Since then we've seen fines handed out to telcos across the spectrum for a variety of issues and customers have regularly scored telecommunication providers at the bottom of the scale in customer satisfaction surveys.

"We know price isn't the only thing New Zealanders care about and our new powers will help us highlight the quality of service that consumers experience. The aim of this work is to lift the level of service overall by encouraging providers to compete on quality, not just dollars and data," says Gale.

A discussion paper on key issues is available here. Submissions can be made via the online form or at length via email to regulation.branch@comcom.govt.nz.

Submissions are due in by the end of July.


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