Labour calls for telco watchdog following fines
Vodafone's Auckland HQ
By 3 News online staff / NZN
New Zealand needs a telecommunications watchdog to make sure customers aren't duped, Labour says.
IT spokeswoman Clare Curran says companies are able to put money-making ahead of fair play, customer loyalty and service satisfaction.
"New Zealanders need an industry-level 'loud speaker' similar to the Australian Consumer Communications Action Network, where they can voice their concerns," she said.
"They need a way to verify claims being made about products, they need transparency and they need honesty from the companies they choose to support."
Vodafone New Zealand was on Monday fined $960,000 for misleading its customers in three advertising campaigns.
It was last year fined nearly $500,000 for six other Fair Trading Act charges.
Ms Current says Vodafone isn't alone - Telecom was recently hit with a $12 million penalty for using its market dominance to deter competitors.
"Labour's concern in the current environment - where companies are able to put money-making ahead of fair play, customer loyalty and service satisfaction - is that there isn't a group committed solely to consumer advocacy in this sector," she said.
Vodafone pleaded guilty in July to the charges brought by the Commerce Commission.
Nine of the charges relate to claims Vodafone made about the extent of its broadband network, made between October 2006 and April 2008.
Four charges related to the availability of a $10 prepay credit between May 2007 and September 2008.
Other charges related to claims made about the company's 3G service between September 2008 and February 2009.
"In 2006 and 2008, there was a huge amount happening in the world of technology," says marketing director Greg Campbell.
"The mobile internet was emerging, mobile networks were speeding up and customers were really getting a handle on the benefits of being mobile. In our genuine attempts to communicate these benefits, we accept that we got some things wrong.
"We did not set out to mislead anyone and we apologise unreservedly. We accept that we didn’t communicate as clearly as we should have done with our customers and pleaded guilty to the FTA charges back in July."
NZN / 3 News