Thursday, 01 April 2021 11:55

NZ Commerce Commission completes consumer mobile phone bills review Featured


New Zealand’s competition enforcement agency, The Commerce Commission, has completed its review of consumer mobile phone bills following feedback from the telecommunications industry on their plans for providing customers with more “meaningful product and service comparisons” and to guard against overspending.

Completion of the review comes after the Commission published an open letter in September 2020, asking telcos Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees to share their customer service plans. This was accompanied by a report from Schiff Consulting, aspects of which were later contested by the industry. 

The Commisson said on Thursday that in response to industry submissions Schiff Consulting has now refined the “right planning” aspect of its analysis for some customers who used less than their quota in every month.

“This refinement results in an estimated one in seven postpaid consumers saving an average of $18.28 a month compared with the original analysis of a quarter of postpaid consumers saving an average $11.60 a month,” the Commission notes.

“This is a decrease in the number of consumers who could potentially save money by switching, but an increase in the total average saving.”

“We appreciate the industry feedback and consider that the updated analysis, alongside our wider understanding of pain points, continues to support our conclusion that transparency and inertia issues warrant action,” says Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson.

“The changes to the analysis broadly offset each other, leaving our overall conclusions in relation to potential savings for consumers unchanged.

“The review of the bills of nearly 80,000 mobile consumers has provided a valuable snapshot of the extent to which consumers’ purchasing decisions match their usage and how much they could save by switching plans or providers,” Commissioner Gilbertson says.

On 9 March 2021, mobile network operators and the Telecommunications Forum agreed to implement a range of measures to provide consumers with greater access to and transparency of spend and usage information.

“We welcome the industry’s commitment to implementing these measures and will monitor the delivery of them as part of our ongoing programme to improve retail service quality for consumers,” Gilbertson says. 

“We appreciate the constructive engagement we have received from the industry on our review and look forward to seeing the agreed transparency initiatives implemented during 2021.”

The close out letter, submissions received on the mobile bill review and Schiff Consulting’s updated analysis can be found on the Commission’s website.

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