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Bill's Law - Telecommunication Complaints - 29 Nov

Viewer Question: #1

I was watching Good Morning and was interested in the discussion on student loans. I took out a loan when I was 16 to do an Early Childhood course by correspondence. I didn't get much help from the provider and had little contact with them. One day I phoned them to find out that they had money problems and had gone under. I ended up working at a local shop, with no qualification and a student loan. Is there any way I can get help with this. Karyn
Karyn needs to contact NZQA's Policy Unit before the end of this month. The Government has acknowledged that many students lost out because of some slack monitoring of approved tertiary providers that failed to deliver the courses students paid for. The New Zealand Qualification Authority will consider "ex gratia" payments to compensate students for losses suffered from these dodgy providers.
Students should write to Michelle Clemow at NZQA Policy Unit P.O.Box 160 Wellington with all the details of the course and their loan right away.

Good Morning Telecommunications Complaints

A new Telecommunications disputes service is being launched today by the Telecommunications Carriers Forum which will provide a free consumer service that promises to sort out problems between companies and their customers. Bill can you tell us something about the new scheme ?

Telecommunication Dispute Resolution (TDR) is a free service for residential and small business consumers to use if they are unable to resolve a complaint with their telecommunication company.

The service is endorsed by telecommunications companies accounting for over 98 percent of the New Zealand telecommunications market.

The new service can be used by any consumer whose telecommunications company is a member of the TDR scheme.

Scheme Members include:Telecom ,TelstraClear, Vodafone, Ihug, Kordia, Orcon,Slingshot, Call Plus, Digital Island, WorldxChange and Eziphone

These companies have all agreed to be bound by service standards contained in the customer complaints code. These standards include:

- Companies will comply with the law (CGA and FTA)
- Customers treated with respect and in a fair and courteous manner
- Information supplied to customers will be accurate and in plain English
- Services will be provided in a timely manner
- Companies will be clear in their communication with customers
- Contractual terms and conditions will be made readily available to customers
- A minimum of 10 days notice of key changes to terms, prices and services will be given to customers
- Bills will be accurate and if undercharged, customers will be given a reasonable period to pay

Consumers must have raised their complaint with their telecommunication company first, and given the company a chance to respond. If the consumer is not happy with the outcome or it has taken more than six weeks to resolve, TDR can get involved.

Consumers can access the TDR service via phone 0508 98 98 98, fax, email and through its website, 

The TDR service is being offered through a specialist dispute resolution company, Dispute Resolution Services (DRS). Because DRS is not part of the Telco industry and is in fact government owned, the independence of the scheme is assured.

TDR can consider complaints about any service or product, including pre-pay mobile phones, from telecommunications companies that are part of the Scheme, including charges (but not pricing).

Typical complaints could include:-
1. Mobile phone sold to a consumer who understands it has a credit limit on it (but it doesn't)
2. Door to door sales of phones and connection contracts which fail to fulfill the requirements of the Door to Door Sales
3. Customer transferred to new phone company without their knowledge or consent
4. Customer told will save significantly under new phone deal but first bill double normal amount paid under old contract
5. Customers told they will get unlimited free texts if they sign up to deal and this services subsequently changes

TDR cannot consider a complaint if it is in regard to:
- an event that happened before 30 November 2007, when TDR started operating, or before a telecommunication company became part of the TDR Scheme
- equipment or software that is not supported by the telecommunications company
- a telecommunication company's network coverage
- 111 calls
- Yellow Pages advertising content 
- the same complaint that is subject to legal action and/or is being made somewhere else, such as through the Courts
- domain names
- a request for information
- an issue that is covered by the Privacy Act
- Claims for compensation to customers in excess of $12,000. 
- Claims that are based on Loss of profits or indirect loss, pain and suffering, loss of business reputation or inconvenience and mental distress