New Zealand telecom operators tasked with creating marketing code to avoid communication problems with consumers

The New Zealand Trade Commission has ordered the telecommunications industry to formulate a marketing code to educate consumers on the technology options and plans that best meet their needs to avoid confusion.

The Trade Commission declares that the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) will have 60 working days to create Commission-issued marketing guidelines in an industry Retail Service Quality (RSQ) code.

The Commission expects the code to be binding on TCF members, which include most of New Zealand’s major telecommunications providers.

Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson said the issue has become urgent due to increased marketing activities related to telecom operators Chorus the removal of the old copper and broadband telephone and Spark removal of connections to the public switched telephone network (PSTN).

“Consumers have told us that the marketing of alternatives to traditional copper-based services is often incomplete, confusing or misleading,” he noted. “Suppliers have also contacted us to share their concerns about the behavior of their competitors.

Gilbertson said telecom operators need to align their marketing with the new guidelines as soon as possible so consumers can make informed decisions.

“We especially want telecom service providers to clean up their marketing activities as the Christmas season approaches, which has traditionally been a busy time for the industry. “

Alternative technologies to copper include fiber, hybrid fiber-coaxial cable, and wireless broadband.

The marketing guidelines published by the Commission aim to ensure that consumers:
• have sufficient advance notice of any changes to their copper service so that they are not in a rush to make a decision on an alternative service.
• know the full range of alternative services available to them, which is usually more than what their provider wants them to buy
• know how alternative services are likely to work – especially in terms of speeds where providers must now avoid “up” or theoretical maximums and use probable actual peak speeds

The Commission monitors the quality of retail services and has the power to intervene to improve outcomes for consumers. This may include issuing guidance on RSQ code issues and creating Commission RSQ codes for retail service providers to follow.

RSQ issues include customer service, outage service levels, installation issues, contract issues, product disclosure, billing, switching process, service performance, speed and availability. .

Gilbertson recalled that the Commission wrote to industry and consumers the last August raising concerns about the commercialization of telecommunications technology and seeking views on how best to implement the proposed commercialization principles.

“Industry comments on the August letter were that a TCF code was preferable to a Commission code and we are now giving the industry the opportunity to lead the way on this important issue for consumers.

“Over 600 individual consumers have provided feedback on the marketing principles outlined in our letter, which shows how important this issue is to them,” he said.

The problem of consumer confusion due to telecommunications marketing was also highlighted in the Commissions Improving the Quality of Retail Service – Draft Baseline Report published in September. The report builds on six months of consultation with consumers and industry, as well as insights from one of the largest surveys ever of New Zealand telecommunications consumers, and is a key part of the work. Commission aimed at improving the quality of retail services.

Marketing guidelines are the responsibility of the Commission website.

This first appeared in the CommsWire subscription newsletter on November 9, 2021.


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