Telecommunications along with domestic appliances was the most complained about industry in 2016, according to the Commerce Commission’s 2016 Consumer Issues Report, released on 27 September.
The report summarises issues raised with the Commission under the Fair Trading Act, with Telecommunications Dispute Resolution and with the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Telecommunications and domestic appliances each accounted for nine percent of all complaints logged by the Commission under the Fair Trading Act, followed by motor vehicle retail at six percent. However telecommunications accounted almost half of 10,0000 enquiries to the Citizens Advice Bureau, double the next highest sector, motor vehicle disputes.
The Commission said complaints under the Fair Trading Act about telecommunications providers had increased by 20 percent from 2014, and had doubled from 2013 levels.
It named Spark as the most complained about trader in 2015 and Vodafone the second most complained about, with complaints about charges generating a third of related complaints against both telecommunications providers.
Telecommunication Dispute Resolution (TDR) received 1,938 complaints for the 2014/15 year, an increase of 18 percent over the preceding business year. TDR identified three systemic issues in its complaints: charging for paper invoices; non-availability of broadband; unanticipated costs associated with transfers between telecommunications providers.
The Commission said: “Analysing complaints about service by trader identified a high volume of complaints about telecommunications providers. Other traders generating a high volume of complaints about the potentially non-compliant provision of services included Ticketmaster, Auckland Academy of Learning, Air New Zealand, and Wilson Parking. Retail electricity providers and telecommunications providers enforcing contract cancellation notice periods have recently generated a number of complaints.”
Termination fees were a new theme in 2015 complaints. Consumers made 104 complaints about electricity providers’ and telecommunications providers’ termination practices. Complaints were about the perceived introduction of termination fees without disclosure to consumers, or about having service terminated prior to the agreed termination date despite being charged for the whole notice period.