The Commerce Commission has told NZ’s mobile network operators they should provide more meaningful comparison information and guard against overspending by consumers.
In an open letter to Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees, the regulator outlined its review of nearly 80,000 consumer mobile bills, which followed on from its 2019 study into the state of competition in the mobile market.
The review, which also included bills from Spark’s Skinny brand, found 64 per cent of consumers did not change plans during the 12-month review period.
The review found the average customer spent $33.85 per month, with the average postpaid customer spending more than twice as much as the average prepaid customer ($49.86 versus $21.65 per month).
It also found a quarter of post-paid consumers could save an estimated average of $11.60 a month by moving to a cheaper plan that would still cover their usage.
Further, 7 per cent of all residential consumers spent a relatively high amount on mobile services, given their usage, and that these consumers could potentially save an average of $48.65 a month.
“Our work suggests that some consumers are significantly overspending on their mobile plans due to transparency and inertia problems in the market,” Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson said.
“We want to see the industry catch up to other sectors, like electricity, where consumers and comparison websites are making good use of the ability to compare usage and pricing.”
Gilbertson said the commission expected the operators to address these issues by increasing the usage information available to consumers and implementing measures to help keep consumers on plans that best reflect their actual requirements.
“This will improve transparency, empower consumers to make better choices and guard against overspending,” he said.
The Commission also encouraged the wider industry to initiate a programme of work on a “consumer data right” so consumers can choose to share their usage, spend and product information with competitors and comparison services to help inform their decisions.
The Commission has asked the industry body, the Telecommunications Forum, to look at an industry-wide initiative in this area.
“We’ve identified important opportunities for the industry to step up to improve consumer outcomes,” Gilbertson said.
“We’ll review the industry response in our retail service quality work programme, which is focused on addressing key customer pain points across the industry as a whole, with a view to taking more active measures if required,” he said
The mobile bill review showed that consumers who proactively manage their mobile plan are better placed to match their…