Online sales, telcos catch watchdog's eye
The Commerce Commission says online sales are now a serious chunk of its complaints work and telecommunications is still the most complained-about industry.
13 September 2017
A large number of customer complaints about telecommunication companies and online retailers has drawn the commerce watchdog's attention.
The Commerce Commission on Wednesday released its report into consumer issues for the year to July, having reviewed nearly 7300 complaints.
Commissioner Anna Rawlings says an increasing number of complaints (6798 to be exact) had been about Fair Trading Act issues, such as pricing practices, the way things were represented by sellers and warranties.
With the growth of online shopping, 42 per cent of its Fair Trading Act complaints were now from internet customers - compared to 25 per cent about stores.
"While internet shopping is convenient and gives consumers access to new products, consumers need to research the traders they intend to buy from," Ms Rawlings said.
Buyers needed to particularly pay attention to extra costs - such as booking fees - currencies they were buying in, and whether the fine print included monthly subscriptions.
"It is evident from some complaints that consumers have subsequently had doubts whether they purchased from a legitimate trader, particularly if the trader is based abroad and the consumer has been unable to make contact with the trader to resolve concerns," the report said.
Meanwhile, the watchdog said telecommunications continued to be its most complained-about industry, with the number of grievances up to 603, a third more than the previous year.
Of that, Vodafone was the most complained about with 186 complaints, followed closely by rival Spark at 180, with Two Degrees on 88.
The commission said about a quarter of those complaints were over incorrect billing and a fifth related to various fees charged, such as late payments, credit card use, or paper invoices.
Appliance store retailers were the second-most complained about industry with 403 complaints.
Common themes included complaints about misleading pricing practices - especially during advertised sales - and misrepresentations over the Consumer Guarantees Act when returning a faulty product.
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