TDRS Third Quarter Results

New Zealand’s first independent telecommunication dispute resolution service is on target to reach 1000 complaints received in its first year of operation.

Media Release

Telecommunication Dispute Resolution Service, Third Quarter Results

New Zealand’s first independent telecommunication dispute resolution service is on target to reach 1000 complaints received in its first year of operation.

The organisation’s third Quarterly Report, released today, said this figure is very close to the number anticipated when the scheme was first planned.

The TDR Council’s chairman, consumer law advocate Bill Bevan, said most of the complaints dealt with by TDR to date have been resolved very early on in the process, and were not moving on to a formal, adjudicated process. However, Mr Bevan said that consumer satisfaction levels were very high.

“It is clear from the TDR customer satisfaction survey and the anecdotal feedback that the scheme agent is providing quality services to consumers who are appreciative of the assistance. The process is seen as “fair and impartial”, with 90% of consumers saying they would recommend use of the scheme to their friends.”

However, Mr Bevan also highlighted the problem some consumers face where TDR was unable to help – complaints from consumers whose telecommunications provider was not part of the TDR scheme.

“Almost seven percent of the total complaints are from customers of non-participating telecommunications suppliers. Given that these suppliers have less than two percent of the market, this represents a disproportionate number of complaints from consumers that TDR cannot help. This is clearly one of the most significant issues identified to date and one the Council is keen to address by encouraging 100% industry participation,” he said.

The TDR service was implemented and is managed by Dispute Resolution Services Ltd (DRSL). DRSL General Manager Neil McKellar said although there had been an increase in complaint numbers, few were resulting in a formal, adjudicated process.

He also said that while the number of calls to TDR continued to increase – showing an increasing awareness of the service – many consumers were being sent back to their telecommunications company because their complaint had not been made the company first. TDR can only help with complaints where the telecommunication company is a member of the TDR scheme, and where the consumer has already made the complaint to the company involved.

The top three complaint types for the quarter are the same as previous quarterly reports – billing and credit (45%), service/product delivery (22%), and customer service (14%). In the next and final quarterly report for the year, the category of billing and credit will be separated into two categories; billing, and credit management. Three new complaint types have also been added to the existing categories; transfer (where a consumer is transferred from one telecommunications company to another), contracts and complaint handling.

Mr McKellar said that with more accurate classification of disputes it would be easier for TDR to provide a root cause analysis of complaints received.

One area that had caused particular concern this quarter was the transfer or customers from one Scheme Member to another, Mr McKellar also said. Complaints had been received that showed there was often poor communication to the customer during the transfer process. This included:

• Customers not advised about possible termination fees when switching between companies

• Transfers actioned while customers were “still considering things”

• “Pushy” sales tactics, particularly in regard to elderly customers or those with English as a second language

• Insufficient advice given about delays

• Uncertainty about who the customer should direct complaints to if there are problems during transfer

• Transfers occurring without customers’ written authorisation

• Customers feeling ‘caught in the middle’ where both providers denied responsibility for delays or other disruptions in service

Mr McKellar said these issues had been passed on to the TCF working party that is reviewing the Customer Transfer Code.

TDR is a free service, which can be used by any consumer whose telecommunications company is a member of the TDR scheme.

Consumers must have raised their complaint with their telecommunication company first, and given the company a chance to respond. If the consumer is not happy with the outcome or it has taken more than six weeks to resolve, TDR can get involved.

The service has been established by the Telecommunications Carriers’ Forum (TCF) – a collective of telecommunication companies – along with leading consumer advocates such as Consumers’ Institute, TUANZ and Citizens Advice Bureaux.

The TCF established the TDR Council, made up of half industry and half consumer representatives, to provide the overall governance of the service.

A full copy of the quarterly report can be found on the TDR website www.tdr.org.nz.

ENDS
Scheme Members:
Airnet NZ Ltd

CallPlus

Communitel

Digital Island

Eziphone

Faxware International Limited t/a TNZ Group

Genesis

ihug

igrin Internet

Kordia

Orcon

Snap Internet

Telecom

TelstraClear

Vodafone

WorldxChange
Websites:
Telecommunication Dispute Resolution

www.tdr.org.nz
Telecommunication Carriers’ Forum

www.tcf.org.nz
Dispute Resolution Services Ltd.

www.drsl.co.nz

Background:

The TDR service was established by the Telecommunication Carriers’ Forum, and is based on a Customer Complaints Code that has been agreed to by the TCF members. Development of the Code began in May 2005, and it was formally endorsed by the TCF late 2006. The TCF then established a Council to govern the Scheme and appoint a company to implement the service.


Questions and Answers: 3rd Quarter TDR Results Press Release

Q. Have you had the volume of disputes you expected up to this point?
A. TDR is currently getting the volume of calls that it predicted. It is on track to meet the estimated call volume for the first year of operation.

Q. What type of dispute has been the most common?
A. Almost half (45%) of the disputes raised with TDR have related to billing issues, and mostly these have been disputed amounts that customers have been charged.

Service and product delivery have accounted for the next largest percentage of complaints received (22%). The majority of these complaints deal with failures and delays in connection, disconnection and functionality.

The remainder of the disputes related to customer service (14%) network performance (7%) and Faults (5%). The remaining one percent of complaints were listed as ‘Other’ – calls that did not fit the standard categories. These are very similar levels to the calls TDR received in the first and second quarters.

Q. What has been the most common outcome from the disputes?
A. Most of the disputes have been dealt with at ‘Level 1’, where a formal complaint has been made to TDR, but TDR has had to refer the complaint back to the supplier. This has generally been because resolution is still being attempted through the companies’ internal complaints process and deadlock has not been reached.

Q. Which company is getting the most complaints?
A. Releasing the total complaint numbers per Scheme Member could be misleading – the company with the most complaints may be most actively promoting TDR to its customers, and therefore could have the most robust customer service, not the worst.

For specific information about TDR complaints, please contact the company concerned.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are customers being made aware of TDR?
TDR is being promoted through all of the Scheme Members to their customers. TDR information is also available through all Citizen Advice Bureaux, Community Law and Ministry of Social Development Heartland Centres. Telecommunication customers can go to any of these sources for more information, or get in touch with TDR.

How do customers lodge a complaint?
Customers must take their complaint up with their telecommunication provider first, before coming to TDR. Their telecommunication company must also be a member of the TDR Scheme.

Once a customer has reached the end of the company’s complaint system without reaching a resolution, or if the customer has not heard from the company in over six weeks, TDR can help. The process begins with the customer making the complaint to TDR in writing.

For more information about the TDR process, please see the TDR website at www.tdr.org.nz.

ENDS

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