Telco Commissioner asks for Telecom retraction

Wholesale loyalty offer dispute heats up as Telecom sticks to its guns

Telco commissioner Ross Patterson has asked for a public retraction from Telecom for its "misleading statements" accusing the commission of giving it no guidance around wholesale loyalty pricing.

Telecom has refused to give a retraction, saying from Telecom's perspective, the comments were accurate.

The watchdog has filed legal proceedings against Telecom for breaching its obligations not to discriminate between service providers in three of the company's loyalty offers between December 2008 and July 2009.

At Telecom's first-quarter 2010 results on November 6, Paul Reynolds said: "Months ago we asked the commission for guidance on whether we were pricing in the right framework and didn't get any guidance."

Patterson reacted swiftly and sent a letter to Reynolds the same day (November 6) saying: "This statement is in my view misleading...I would expect Telecom to make a public retraction."

Patterson said in the letter that the commission had previously advised Telecom its offers raised potential concerns as they might breach the Commerce Act, and had detailed its concerns at the effect of "discriminatory pricing."

"Bearing in mind that the commission had not fully investigated the offers, it is difficult to understand what clearer guidance could have been provided by the commission to Telecom," said Patterson.

The company's counsel Tristan Gilbertson said in a letter to the commission dated November 10 that it wouldn't retract its comments and as the matter is subject to legal proceedings in would be inappropriate for Telecom and the commission to comment further in open correspondence or in the media.

Patterson said the commission was disappointed that Telecom doesn't intend to retract the comments so in the interests of transparency had placed its correspondence on the commission's website.

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