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‘Something needs to change’: Telcos ‘on alert’ to drop charges

‘Something needs to change’: Telcos ‘on alert’ to drop charges

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Almost a third of mobile users on post-pay plans are paying too much and telcos may need to be regulated to force some change, Consumer NZ says.

Woman use of mobile phone

The electricity sector is a lot more accepting of the concept of people switching to other providers compared with telcos, Consumer NZ says.
Photo: 123RF

A new report released by the Commerce Commission looked at how much 80,000 customers were paying for their monthly mobile plans. It concluded around a quarter were paying about $11.60 too much each month and about 7 percent were paying $50 a month too much.

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Jon Duffy
Photo: Jon Duffy

Consumer NZ’s chief executive Jon Duffy said customers can push back by being more proactive and shopping around. People should review twice a year whether their plan is the best option.

“But the flip side of that is the telcos know. They know your usage because they’re billing you for it and they know how much they’re charging you for it so they know what services you’re not using.

“So if they were clearer about what the right plan for consumers was in each case consumers would be better empowered to make informed decisions about where they spend their money.”

One recommendation in the report is that telcos should be encouraged, or even forced, to allow consumers to share their data history with other providers to suggest another more suitable plan.

Duffy said the Commerce Commission has picked up on some work MBIE is doing around consumers’ data rights. It has started overseas, especially in the banking sector, where consumers take their data to, for example, a comparison website, which recommends the most suitable provider.

Telcos and some other industries are not best pleased by the idea of customers sharing their data because it increases competition and promotes the idea of switching, Duffy said.

The electricity sector was a lot more accepting of the concept of people switching to other providers.

“If you think of the importance of connectivity these days and the amount of money New Zealanders are pouring into this industry we think the Commerce Commision’s call for more openness and transparency is a really good move.”

The signals had been there for a really long time and the Commerce Commission has been forced to take this action and it was now saying indirectly that if the industry didn’t act, regulation may follow.

“We may actually get to the point where we can’t get full consensus across the industry and regulation does need to follow. But the industry is certainly clearly on alert now that something needs to change.”

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