ISPs introduce 'offer summaries' for easier comparison shopping

TCF chairman David Stone

KeallHauled

Chris Keall

Internet service providers have introduced "offer summaries" – billed by industry group the Telecommunications Carriers Forum (TCF) as a way to make it easier to comparison-shop between ISPs.

Offer summaries now appear below the plans, encapsulating details including gotachas such as extra fees if you bust your data cap and termination fees – details that have previously taken a lot of fine-print pecking to find.

NBR applauds the broad thrust of the initiative but its implementation is far from uniform.

Looking at our four largest ISPs, Vodafone has brief offer summaries after its plans; Telecom and Callplus/Slingshot offer a bit more detail, while Orcon totally goes to town. 

Still, more detail at your fingertips has to be better.

The offer summaries are supposed to include what to do in the event of a dispute with your ISP.

Not all of them do. For the record, your best bet is to head for the Telecommunication Disputes Resolution service, chaired by David Russell.

The new offer summary initiative is part of the TCF’s Broadband Product Disclosure Code – a work in progress. TCF chief executive David Stone says members are currently working to finalise an approach to accurately test broadband performance in a way that allows consumers to make true “apples with apples” comparisons between different offers. Once implemented, the measurements will also be included in the offer summaries, he says. NBR suspects there will be a lot of fun trying to get ISPs to agree on a performance metric. Tests by the likes of Commerce Commission-contracted tester TrueNet tend to be like political opinion polls – lauded by their subjects when they're on top and derided for dodgy methodology when they're not.

Anyway, now the Broadband Product Disclosure code is in train, it would be good to get something similar for mobile plans. I'm thinking especially of Australia where the lifetime cost of all contract plans is listed.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

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