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Published Thursday 16 Dec 2021


Fourteen years ago we didn’t have iPhones, we didn’t have fibre to the home, we didn’t really have fixed wireless services and most customers were moving from dial-up to DSL. How times have changed.

 

 

Just as most of us have updated our technology many times in the last decade, it is time that we update the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution (TDR) scheme which, since 2007, has been helping to address problems customers may have with the sector. 

 

 

Normally customers can work out any issues with their providers directly, but should the customer or telco be unable to solve the dispute, they can bring it to the TDR for resolution. 

 

Last year, the TDR resolved 1961 cases, the vast bulk of which were resolved in the early phase of the process. Only 2% required a more formal intervention and all were resolved successfully. 

 

The Commerce Commission is required to review the TDR every three years and it has asked the TCF to look at how the scheme could be updated, something that is appropriate given how long it’s been since the scheme was set up and how much telecommunication services have changed in that time. 

 

While most of the TDR process works well, there’s always room to improve and since the scheme’s inception the world of dispute resolution has evolved somewhat. One of the key measures of a modern dispute scheme is its independence from the industry it helps manage, and that’s one of the things the TCF is currently reviewing, along with our entire Customer Complaints Code. 

 

While that all takes some time to put together the TCF, along with the TDR Council and scheme agent Fairway, have made good progress on a number of tweaks to the existing model which will deliver some of the Commission’s recommendations early in the new year. 

 

This includes increasing customer awareness of the scheme, changes to the way the TDR reports on recurring issues, the creation of a number of topic guides to help customers navigate the telco service sector and a number of other smaller changes to the code itself. 

 

I’m pleased to report that the Code has been signed off by the TCF Board and is now operational. 

 

Phase two of our review has already begun, with the commissioning of an external party to help the TCF work through what a state-of-the-art scheme looks like, how we will operationalise it how best to fund any new model. 

 

That work is due back to the Commerce Commission later in 2022 and we will announce any new TDR solution once that process has been completed. 

 

In the meantime, you can find out more about the newly updated Code here and more about the TDR itself on the organisation’s website

 

By Paul Brislen, TCF CEO