The Commerce Commission receives more complaints about telecommunications than any other industry, while four out of ten complaints about the Fair Trading Act regard online shopping.
The Consumer Issues Report for the year to 30 June 2017 takes a detailed look at the 7,270 complaints the Commission received during the financial year.
“We are receiving an increasing number of complaints about Fair Trading Act issues such as pricing practices, representations about goods and services, warranties and guarantees, and traders not delivering the goods purchased,” Commissioner Anna Rawlings says.
“With the continued growth of online shopping, we are now seeing more than 40% of Fair Trading Act complaints relate to consumer experiences online. While internet shopping is convenient and gives consumers access to new products, consumers need to research the traders they intend to buy from and pay attention to additional costs such as booking fees, the currency they are paying in, and whether the fine print discloses they have been signed up to a monthly subscription.
“Telecommunications continue to be the most complained about industry, with the number of complaints increasing by nearly a third on last year. This trend reinforces our decision to make retail telecommunications a priority focus area for the coming year across both our consumer and regulation work.”
Other industries that feature in the most complained about category include domestic appliance retailers, motor vehicle traders, electricity retailers and supermarkets.
In relation to consumer credit, complaints about issues such as irresponsible lending, repossession practices and consumers finding it difficult to apply for hardship protections from their lender when in financial distress have increased by nearly a quarter on the 2015 calendar year.
The full report and infographic illustrating the key findings can be found on the Commission’s website.
‘Deliberately hazy’ says consumer group
Consumer NZ says the marked rise in Fair Trading Act complaints shows consumer rights are being ignored by too many retailers.
Chief executive Sue Chetwin says it is disappointing, but not surprising, to see Spark and Vodafone again topping the list of the most complained about traders.
Vodafone attracted 186 complaints and Spark 180. Foodstuffs, owner of the New World and Pak’nSave supermarket brands, followed them with 98 complaints.
Ms Chetwin says companies named in the commission’s report were also a common cause of complaints to Consumer NZ’s advisory service, which receives about 4,000 inquiries a year.
“The telco industry and appliance retailers regularly feature in complaints to us. Despite the fact the Fair Trading Act and Consumer Guarantees Act have been in place for over 20 years, some traders are still deliberately hazy about their responsibilities.”