Commission outlines process for review of Telco Dispute Resolution Scheme

The Commerce Commission has published two papers outlining the process for its review of the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme (TDRS).

The Commission is required to review the TDRS every three years and to report on any recommendations for improving the scheme.

The first paper outlines the process for the 2021 review, including how stakeholders can take part. As this is the first time the Commission has reviewed the TDRS, it has also published a second paper, providing guidance on how the Commission will conduct these types of reviews.

“A key part of ensuring consumers are satisfied with their service is having access to independent, efficient and responsive dispute resolution services if problems arise that consumers can’t resolve directly with their providers,” Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson says.

“Our review will examine current arrangements and provide recommendations for any improvements to the scheme. It will also set dates for when we expect to see these improvements. If our recommendations are not implemented satisfactorily, we must report to the Government on this. The Government may then introduce an alternative dispute resolution scheme,” he says.

In April, the Commission intends to release a paper outlining issues of focus for the 2021 review. This paper will be informed by consultation on the October 2020 open letter in which the Commission called for feedback on the TDRS. The Commission will release a draft report for consultation around September, before publishing a final report in November.

The framework and process papers can be found on the Commission’s website.

Background

The TDRS was set up in 2007 by the Telecommunications Forum, which is the industry body representing the majority of New Zealand’s telecommunications providers. The TDRS is designed to provide independent resolution of disputes. Consumers can take disputes with their telecommunications provider to the TDRS, which then works to find a resolution between the telecommunications provider and consumer. Fairway Resolution Limited is the dispute resolution provider for the scheme.

The Telecommunications Act directs the Commission to monitor retail service quality (RSQ), make information available in a way that informs consumer choice, and review industry dispute resolution schemes at least once every three years.

Retail service quality encompasses a range of measures including customer service, faults, installation, contracts, product disclosure, billing, switching, service performance, speed and availability.

The Telecommunications Act allows the Commission to issue guidelines to industry on RSQ codes, review industry RSQ codes, and create Commission RSQ codes.

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