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TDR Service, Second Quarter Results

Telecommunication Dispute Resolution Service, Second Quarter Results

4 Aug, 2008

The number of people using New Zealand’s first independent telecommunication dispute resolution service continues to increase, according to the organisation’s second Quarterly Report. The results, released today, show 23 per cent more people used the Telecommunication Dispute Resolution (TDR) service in this quarter, compared to the previous four months.

The TDR Council’s chairman, consumer law advocate Bill Bevan, said the increase in complaint numbers was also helping to achieve one of the service’s more long-term goals, which was to identify systemic issues in the telecommunications arena.

“This is an important element of the scheme because it offers an insight for both companies and consumers into areas where better communication or improved service delivery may lead to a reduction in overall complaints,” 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.

“Most jobs were closed at Level One in the TDR process, because resolution was still being attempted through the scheme members’ internal complaints handling processes,” he said.

Mr McKellar said while it was still too early to properly define what systemic issues there might be in the telecommunication sector, some common themes were starting to appear. Complaint handling and contractual terms and conditions featured again in the second quarter report – these same areas were also mentioned in the first report, published in May.

How complaints were handled by telecommunication companies continued to feature in complaints to TDR in this quarter, mainly to do with how telecommunication companies recorded and numbered their consumer complaints, and how they communicated with customers around complaints.

Few of the customers who had contacted TDR appeared to understand their provider’s complaints handling process and in particular whether their provider had registered their issue as a complaint, the report says. In the majority of cases, consumers thought they had made a complaint but the companies had recorded their issues as requests for information, enquiries, concerns or faults.

The TDR report also said timing and lack of information about contractual terms and conditions meant some customers were still not being fully informed of their contractual rights and responsibilities. Scheme Members were relying on their websites providing the information, which caused problems for some customers, the report said.

Of the complaints that had been received for the quarter, 45 per cent related to billing and credit. A further 31 per cent were to do with service and product delivery (failures and delays in connection, disconnection and functionality). Customer service complaints made up 11 per cent of complaints, eight per cent related to network performance (speed and service interruptions) and faults accounted for three per cent of complaints. The remaining two per cent of complaints were listed as ‘Other’ – calls that did not fit the standard categories.

The report says TDR is also meeting its budget and performance targets.

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


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