Dealing with phone and internet problems — who to talk to, common problems and complaining tips.

If you have a problem with your phone or internet you should:

  1. Give your mobile phone or internet provider the chance to sort out your problem. Check the terms and conditions of your plan. Think about how what you will say, and what would like done about the problem.
  2. Contact Telecommunications Dispute Resolution (TDR), if you and your provider can't agree, or you're having difficulty reaching them. Your must give your provider 6 weeks to fix your issue before TDR can step in. 
  3. Report your provider to the Commerce Commission if you think:
    • you've been misled, eg sold a plan you made clear you didn't want
    • your phone or internet company told you something untrue, eg fibre was already installed in your area
    • your terms and conditions seem unfair.

Use the live support on your provider's website to avoid waiting on hold.


Common problems

Your rights in different situations. It's also important to check the terms and conditions of your plan.

 

The Consumer Guarantees Act says the phone and broadband services you receive must be reliable and of an acceptable quality.

Consumer Guarantees Act


How to complain

  • Check your contract — read the terms and conditions of your contract. This will help you understand what you can expect from your provider, eg you may not be able to break a two year contract after one year without being charged a fee. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you understand your contract.
  • Gather proof, eg your bill, bank statements, internet speed test results from different times of day, dates and details of conversations with customer services.
  • Think about what you will say, eg what is happening, how long for.
  • Decide your ideal outcome, eg an apology, account credit, fix modem, different plan.

A CAB near you(external link) — Citizens Advice Bureau

Complaining tips

  • Stick to the facts — explain the problem in detail and provide any evidence you have.
  • Be clear it is a complaint — use the word "complaint" in your phone call, instant message or email. Ask your provider what their complaint process is.
  • Tell them what you want — be clear what you expect to fix your concern.
  • Take time out, if needed — if the conversation is getting heated or you need time to consider their response, arrange a time to call, email or message back. Explain you need to time out to digest the conversation.

Tips when complaining


Telecommunications Dispute Resolution (TDR)

TDR is a free independent service for complaints about telecoms providers. It is available to residential and small business customers (less than 20 full-time employees).

TDR covers most telco providers. To see if yours is a member:

  • check your provider's website
  • your bill
  • ask TDR
  • check the link below.

Who can make a complaint(external link)  — TDR

If your provider is not a member of the TDR, you can take your complaint to the Disputes Tribunal.

About the Tribunal(external link)  — Disputes Tribunal

How TDR can help

TDR can look at complaints about products and services from your telecommunications provider.

This includes:

  • any service or product, including prepaid mobile phones and internet
  • contract issues
  • problems with your bill

They cannot help with:

  • equipment or apps your phone or broadband company does not endorse, eg your own modem, band expander, games you download from an app store.
  • indirect losses, eg compensation for lost time or wages during dispute resolution, lost files, missed phone calls.

TDR will ask you to talk to your phone or internet provider before taking up the complaint. You and your provider have up to six weeks to sort out the issue before TDR steps in.

If you need help with developing or writing a complaint contact TDR first. TDR can offer advice before you talk to your phone or internet provider, eg what you may be able to expect, what to say. They may also take action if you are having problems getting in touch with your provider.

TDR can look at complaints about its members, involving losses up to $15,000 or less. This includes compensation for direct loss, eg your time without a service, hardware replacement or repair costs.

The Disputes Tribunal may be able to help if:

  • your provider is not a TDR member 
  • your provider is a TDR member and your loss is for more than $15,000, but under $30,000.

Making a complaint(external link)  — Telecommunications Dispute Resolution

Disputes Tribunal


Commerce Commission

The Commerce Commission enforces certain consumer laws, including the Fair Trading Act.

You can report the business to the Commerce Commission if:

  • you think you have been misled
  • the business has said something that is not true.

Commerce Commission doesn't act on behalf of individuals and can't investigate every complaint. But their investigations do help make sure businesses are complying with the law. Your information helps them assess which consumer issues are causing greatest harm.

Make a complaint(external link)  — Commerce Commission

Fair Trading Act


More help

Get support at any point from:

  • Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) — a free, independent service, run by volunteers. CAB can advise you on your consumer rights and obligations, in person, by phone, or online.
  • Community Law Centre — offers free one-on-one legal advice to people with limited finances. The organisation has 24 community law centres throughout the country. You can find legal information and other resources on its website.

Find a CAB(external link)  — Citizens Advice Bureau

Our law centres(external link) — Community Law Centres