Opinion: Making cents out of Telecom

Opinion: Making cents out of Telecom

I’m guessing there were a few red faces and possibly even raised voices down at Hereford Street the other day.

Like many Telecom New Zealand customers, I received a letter recently explaining that ‘Connecting New Zealanders’ – as the company’s catchphrase goes – was soon going to cost those very same New Zealanders being connected just a little bit more. How much more for me? Well, let me see… ah, here it is. From May 1, the letter says, the princely sum of $2.24… plus a further 17 cents if I’ve opted for wiring maintenance. All up… add seven, carry the one, plus three… $2.41.

Doesn’t seem much, about a litre of petrol give or take a few drops. In fact, a mere 3.07 percent, neck and neck with inflation (so keeping those in the Beehive relatively happy).

I had consigned this piece of unwelcome news to the ‘I-guess-price-rises-are-inevitable’ basket, when a few days later another letter arrived. Maybe you had one too? It looked pretty much the same – same logos, signature, few paragraphs of type… but a different date… and that’s not all.

“We recently wrote to you regarding a change of pricing,” explained David Craig, GM consumer marketing.

Of course, the faint reproduction of his signature meant he wasn’t writing to me personally, nonetheless, it was good to hear from ol’ Davo again so soon. Maybe Telecom had had a change of heart and was reconsidering the price rise. Maybe there was a reduction in the offing!

“Unfortunately the old and new prices stated in the original letter were incorrect,” continued Dave.


Bang goes my ‘reconsidering the price’ theory.

Anyhow, the reason for the second letter in a week was to tell me that they were $3.01 out with the original price – which meant my bill was now going up by $2.32, another eight cents. (I was relieved to hear, however, that the wiring maintenance stated on the original was absolutely correct.)

Funny thing is, though, with the cost of the second letter, the stamp and the admin – let’s say for argument’s sake a round $1 – it’ll take 12 months at eight cents a go to recoup the cost of telling me about the mistake. By which time of course, there’ll probably be another rise.

David adds: “We apologise for any inconvenience this error has caused.”

Well, thanks for saying, but no skin off my nose, really – okay, maybe eight cents worth of skin, but I can live with that. In fact, a fair bit more of an inconvenience for you, matey boy. I can’t say that accounting is my strong point, but I can’t see this going down well when it comes to doing the maths at the end of the month.

“The price rise reflects the impact of inflation and rising costs on the delivery of our products and services,” explained David in the first of his letters. Next year, I’ll have to keep an eye out for additional reasons like… let me think now… stuff ups with customer mailings.

As I say, a few red faces.

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