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Commission seeks views on improving telecoms retail service

The Commerce Commission has released a discussion document calling for views on retail service quality issues in the telecommunications sector that it considers need improving.

Improving Retail Service Quality – Draft Baseline Report draws on six months of consultation with consumers and industry, plus insights from one of the largest surveys on what issues matter to telecommunications consumers and why.

Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson said that the survey adds to a large body of evidence already gathered by the Commission in this area to provide a detailed view of retail service quality issues faced by telecommunications consumers.

“These issues are far-reaching and span all stages of the telecommunications service lifecycle from advertising, marketing and engagement, through to billing and customer service, to closing accounts and switching providers,” he said.

“This baseline report summarises the results of our work to date and shows there is significant opportunity for improvement. We are now looking for final feedback from consumers and industry to lock down the issues that need to be addressed. Our focus will then shift to identifying and implementing solutions that will make a meaningful difference for consumers.”

The survey of more than 2000 consumers was conducted by Research New Zealand on behalf of the Commission, and in partnership with Consumer NZ, in order to build on previous annual telecommunications customer satisfaction surveys. However, this survey delves deeper into retail service quality issues identified through the Commission’s work with consumers and consumer groups.

Mr Gilbertson said that the Commission’s work to improve retail service quality for consumers is driven by the new regulatory regime introduced in 2018.

“Competition continues to deliver a range of benefits to telecommunications consumers in New Zealand, but it has not addressed all of the retail service quality issues that matter to consumers,” he said. “We’ve been given a clear direction and new powers to improve outcomes for consumers.”

The Commission is already working with the telecoms industry on a number of retail service quality issues, such as improving mobile usage information and the way that newer technologies are advertised to consumers coming off copper. The Commission also announced recommendations for improving the industry disputes resolution service this month.

“We’ve all got a big job ahead of us in this area, but we’re off to a positive start in terms of industry engagement, and I'm looking forward to seeing the necessary focus and resource being applied to this work by telecommunications providers to ensure its success,” Mr Gilbertson said.

The retail service quality baseline report and the Research NZ consumer survey report can be found on the Commission’s website.

Submissions can be made via the Commission website by 5pm, Friday 15 October 2021. Consumers are also encouraged to have their say through feedback forms accessed via the Commission’s website as well as its social media channels.

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