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Consumer negotiates UFB help

Consumer NZ has negotiated a deal with Slingshot to provide cheaper services to the residents of Marshall Court Apartments in Miramar, Wellington.

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Residents, who are largely elderly or disabled, were faced with stiff charges because the 27 flats have been fitted with fibre-optic cabling. They cannot opt for a landline-only service, which means their bills have risen by at least $20 a month.

The Dominion Post alerted Consumer yesterday to the residents’ plight. Today Consumer negotiated arrangements with telecommunications provider Slingshot to offer a $300 credit upfront to residents. Over 15 months that reduces their bills by about $20 a month. The basic Slingshot plan is $74 a month. The offer was open to all residents.

Consumer chief executive Sue Chetwin said it was a fantastic outcome. “We have a trusted business programme which Slingshot is going through. When I was thinking about how we could do something to help these residents, it struck me that this was the ideal opportunity to put that programme to the test.

“Within an hour of getting on the blower, Slingshot had come to the party,” Ms Chetwin said. “It feels like a good day at the office when we can use our reputation and standing with businesses and the community to help people who can’t always help themselves.”

Slingshot general manager Taryn Hamilton said it was a tricky situation, because fibre broadband was a brilliant technology but not one that everyone wanted.

“In these UFB-only buildings, we can really only offer phone bundled with broadband. Our plans start at just $74 a month, but of course if you have no need for broadband, then that’s an additional $20 a month for something you aren’t going to use,” Mr Hamilton said.

“We hope that offering a healthy credit of $300 upfront will make things easier, and ease the budgetary strain.”

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