Recently published figures by the Australian Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) show there is a big mismatch between New Zealand and Australia when it comes telecom consumers getting their voices heard.
The TIO received 36,256 new complaints in the January to March quarter of the year. There was an emerging issue around complaints regarding excess data usage charges for mobiles.
“The equivalent in New Zealand is so different there must be something wrong,” says TUANZ acting chief executive Chris O'Connell. “There are not a lot of places here for people to go.”
New Zealand's Telecommunications Disputes Resolution Service tells Computerworld NZ it has received just 840 complaints so far this year.
Australia-New Zealand ratios usually are around five to one in most things ICT, so there is clearly quite a mismatch, O'Connell says.
Consumers in New Zealand have to exhaust the processes of their provider before the disputes resolution service will handle their complaint. The service itself is overseen by industry representatives, and its processes are operated by Fairway, a commercial disputes service spun out of the Accident Compensation Corporation.
“There seems to be a very low awareness of the scheme,” says O'Connell, who regularly gets complaints at TUANZ because people don't know where to go. Computerworld NZ also gets calls from would-be complainants.
“There needs to be a process designed around the consumer rather than the carriers,” O'Connell says.
There is no licensing required for telcos in New Zealand, and the Telecommunications Carriers Forum has no jurisdiction around small providers.