A marked rise in Fair Trading Act complaints shows consumer rights are being ignored by too many retailers, says Consumer NZ CEO Sue Chetwin.
The Commerce Commission’s annual Consumer Issues report shows a 24 per cent rise in Fair Trading Act complaints since 2015. Complaints about potential breaches of the act jumped from 5489 in 2014/15 to 6798 this year.
Pricing practices, and claims about goods and services were the most common issues raised in complaints. Online sales comprised 42 per cent of all complaints.
Chetwin says it was disappointing, but not surprising, to see Spark and Vodafone again topping the list of the most complained about traders.
Vodafone attracted 186 complaints this year and Spark 180. Foodstuffs, owner of the New World and Pak’nSave supermarket brands, followed them with 98 complaints.
Rounding out the top 10 were 2degrees (88), Noel Leeming (82), Air New Zealand (77), Vocus Communications (68), Progressive Enterprises (66), Wilson Parking (62) and Viagogo (57).
Chetwin says companies named in the commission’s report were also a common cause of complaints to Consumer NZ’s advisory service, which receives about 4000 inquiries a year.
“The telco industry and appliance retailers regularly feature in complaints to us. Despite the fact the Fair Trading Act and Consumer Guarantees Act have been in place for over 20 years, some traders are still deliberately hazy about their responsibilities,” says Chetwin, in a statement.
The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum, meanwhile, says the Commerce Commission data on consumer complaints reflects the size of the industry and the sheer volume of interactions that customers have with their service providers in today’s modern world.
“Consumers and businesses interact with telco services all day every day: mobile; broadband; and landlines,” says TCF CEO Geoff Thorn.
“We’re constantly connected to our telco services. As the Commission notes in its report, the number of complaints reflects the size of the industry.”
“Our members are aware that there may be some gaps in customer service,” says Thorn, in a statement.
In our increasingly competitive market, companies compete vigorously to attract and retain customers. Constant improvement in customer service is a key factor in customer retention and is something that the
individual companies work hard to improve.”
He says TCF has also been facilitating a range of initiatives to improve customer service across the Industry.
These include improvements to the Telecommunications Dispute scheme – a free complaints and mediation service for consumers and small businesses, advertised to consumers on their telco bills.
He also cites the development of a customer-centric UFB installation Code which “will assist the industry work together to make installations as painless as possible for the end-user.”
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