Next steps to address pain points for telecommunications consumers
Published30 Mar 2021
The Commerce Commission has published a paper outlining the next steps towards improving consumer experience with providers of internet, landline and mobile phone services.
Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme figures show customer complaints about their providers continued to increase in the year to June 2020.
"That needs to change – so a key part of our work is determining what the specific pain points are for consumers and finding solutions to address them,” says Telecommunications Commissioner, Tristan Gilbertson.
After moving to ensure consumers get better usage and spend information from their mobile providers, with a set of industry-agreed initiatives announced last month, the Commission sought wider feedback on problem areas for consumers.
Pain point feedback was gathered from workshops with community groups and submissions from consumers and industry stakeholders. Summaries of this feedback have been published alongside the paper today.
“Hearing from the industry, alongside consumers and community groups, was invaluable to help build a detailed picture of consumer issues at the coalface of the telecommunications industry,” says Mr Gilbertson.
“Themes that emerged from consumers included difficulties in getting a timely resolution of issues from customer service channels, difficulties comparing and changing plans and providers, and the speed and reliability of services not meeting expectations. I’d like to thank the community groups and individual consumers who shared experiences and potential solutions with us through our workshops and online. These have given us a wider view of what matters to New Zealanders and why. Our focus is now on conducting a broad scale consumer survey on pain points before releasing a consultation paper in July on what pain points we propose to prioritise addressing,” says Mr Gilbertson.
The process paper and summaries of feedback received from the workshops with community groups and from consumers and the telecommunications industry can be found on the Commission’s website.
The Commission intends to publish a final paper on what pain points it will prioritise in mid-October before moving to address and test potential solutions in late 2021 and early 2022.
Under changes to the Telecommunications Act, the Commission is tasked with improving outcomes for telecommunications consumers by monitoring retail service quality, making information available in a way that informs consumer choice, stepping in when quality needs to be improved, and periodically reviewing the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme.
The Telecommunications Act allows the Commission to issue guidelines to industry on matters relating to retail service quality (RSQ) codes, review industry RSQ codes, and create Commission RSQ codes.
Retail service quality encompasses a range of measures including customer service, faults, installation, contracts, product disclosure, billing, switching, service performance, speed and availability.
Since 2018, the Commission and the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme (TDRS) have both seen an increase in overall telecommunications complaints and enquiries.