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Bill comes as big shock

A complaint by a Telecom customer to the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution service has resulted in an unexpected $360 mobile data charge being waived.

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Consumer members Colleen and Bob McClymont were billed by Telecom for extra data use on Colleen’s smartphone earlier this year.

The data charge wasn’t anticipated as Colleen hadn’t been using her phone any differently from previous months.

The couple contacted Telecom to find out the reason for the data surge.

“However, we were unable to get a satisfactory answer – apart from having our plan modified, with a cap preventing further data consumption once the plan maximum had been reached,” Colleen says.

Unhappy with the response from the company, the couple contacted our consumer advice service to see what else they could do.

Our adviser Maggie Edwards recommended they take the matter to the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution (TDR) service.

The TDR is a voluntary scheme. But all the major telcos belong and it’s free for consumers to use.

After the couple contacted the TDR, Telecom got in touch and agreed to waive the data charge.

Why were they charged in the first place? One of the explanations given was that there might have been “a bug” in the phone that caused the extra data use.

Telecom has since told us that “what appears to have happened is the phone downloaded updates, likely to be application updates, and this used up a large amount of mobile data”.

The company apologised for the confusion caused by any comments about a “bug” in the phone. It said its explanation to Colleen hadn’t been satisfactory and had called her again to discuss the data use.

TELCO COMPLAINTS

If you have a complaint that you can’t resolve with your telco, it can be worth going to the TDR.

The scheme can hear complaints relating to billing issues, customer service and data use.

Billing and credit issues make up 33 percent of complaints resolved by the TDR, followed by customer service (25 percent) and faults (19 percent).

Unlike electricity companies, telcos aren’t required to belong to a dispute resolution scheme. While all the major telcos are members of the TDR, some smaller providers aren’t. We think membership of a dispute scheme should be compulsory.

You can contact the TDR on freephone 0508 98 98 98 or visit tdr.org.nz.