Wednesday, 13 September 2017 16:01

Telcos ‘most complained’ about NZ industry sector, says Commission Featured

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New Zealand telecommunications companies and service providers cop the most criticism from the country’s consumers of all business and industry sectors, according to a new report just published by the competition enforcement and regulatory agency The Commerce Commission.

A review of the 7270 complaints received by the commission in the 12 months to the end of June this year reveals telecommunications continue to be the most complained about industry, with the number of complaints increasing by nearly a third on last year.

Commissioner Anna Rawlings says the trend reinforces the Commission’s decision to make retail telecommunications “a priority focus area for the coming year across both our consumer and regulation work”.

Other industries that feature in the most complained about category include domestic appliance retailers, motor vehicle traders, electricity retailers and supermarkets.

The Commission undertook a number of initiatives to better understand the potential issues facing New Zealand consumers and where there is likely to be the greatest harm – and the online shopping sector attracted a large number of consumer complaints.

“We are receiving an increasing number of complaints about Fair Trading Act issues such as pricing practices, representations about goods and services, warranties and guarantees, and traders not delivering the goods purchased,” Rawlings said.

“With the continued growth of online shopping, we are now seeing more than 40% of Fair Trading Act complaints relate to consumer experiences online.

“While Internet shopping is convenient and gives consumers access to new products, consumers need to research the traders they intend to buy from and pay attention to additional costs such as booking fees, the currency they are paying in, and whether the fine print discloses they have been signed up to a monthly subscription.”

In relation to consumer credit, the Commission reports that complaints about issues such as irresponsible lending, repossession practices and consumers finding it difficult to apply for hardship protections from their lender when in financial distress, have increased by nearly a quarter over the 2015 calendar year.

“We believe this increase is in some part fuelled by our work with the budget advisory sector to help them to identify and report lending practices that may be unlawful,” Rawlings said.

“We are continuing to focus on compliance with consumer credit laws and will prioritise the investigation of irresponsible lending practices in the coming year because of the significant harm it can cause already vulnerable consumers.”

The full consumer complaints report and an infographic illustrating the key findings can be found on the Commission’s website.

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Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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