My TV ser­vice isn’t work­ing prop­erly, so do I have to pay?

The Dominion Post - - Your Money - Ask Su­san Su­san Ed­munds su­san.ed­

I have been a Voda­fone cus­tomer for some time: in­ter­net, TV and mo­bile.

Re­cently I up­graded my Voda­fone Sky TV plan to the Voda­fone TV box that has been out for some time. I was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing is­sues with the decoder with pic­ture qual­ity and other things. I rang Voda­fone cus­tomer care a few times re­quest­ing a tech­ni­cian to have a look, all I got ba­si­cally was ‘‘we’ll mon­i­tor it and if it gets re­ally bad we’ll send some­one around’’.

One night I had enough of the qual­ity so I rang cus­tomer care again. This time I was told, ‘‘if you up­grade to our new Voda­fone TV box this will elim­i­nate the prob­lem’’, at a cost of an ex­tra $9 a month. The new box ar­rived, I plugged it up and away we went. How­ever, not long af­ter, the screen froze for five sec­onds, then it did it again.

I rang cus­tomer care the next day and the re­sponse I got was, ‘‘this has been an on­go­ing is­sue we have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing since start­ing this new box and we have tech­ni­cians work­ing on it’’.

I have had this box for nearly three months and the TV at times still freezes and loses con­nec­tion to the ser­vice. If this ser­vice was faulty be­fore I even con­sid­ered sign­ing up shouldn’t Voda­fone have ad­vised me first? Should I be pay­ing full price for a ser­vice that isn’t work­ing prop­erly?

Head of Voda­fone TV Hamish San­som said there had been in­ter­mit­tent freez­ing for ‘‘some weeks’’.

‘‘I wanted to per­son­ally apol­o­gise to any cus­tomers who have ex­pe­ri­enced this. We re­cently un­der­took a ma­jor up­grade to the Voda­fone TV plat­form to en­able us to launch new fea­tures in the fu­ture that cus­tomers have been ask­ing for, such as vis­ual fast for­ward and rewind.

‘‘The freez­ing is­sue be­gan fol­low­ing this up­grade. We now un­der­stand what is caus­ing the freez­ing, which is a key step to re­solv­ing it. In the in­terim, you can fix the freez­ing is­sue tem­po­rar­ily by chang­ing the chan­nel up or down, or switch­ing the power on and off. I want to re­as­sure cus­tomers that the team are work­ing on a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion to this as an ur­gent pri­or­ity, seven days a week. We apol­o­gise again for any dis­rup­tion to your TV view­ing.’’

Jes­sica Wil­son, of Con­sumer NZ, said con­sumers had le­gal rights when ser­vices did not per­form as promised or were not fit for pur­pose.

‘‘If the com­pany can’t or won’t fix the prob­lem, or it’s sub­stan­tial, the Con­sumer Guar­an­tees Act gives you the right to can­cel the con­tract and get a re­fund or re­quest com­pen­sa­tion for the re­duced ser­vice you’re get­ting. Your op­tions in­clude re­quest­ing a re­duc­tion in the price you pay for the ser­vice.

‘‘Where you be­lieve the com­pany has mis­led you about the ser­vice, you could also rely on the Fair Trad­ing Act to claim com­pen­sa­tion. Where dis­putes in­volve a telco, you’ve got the op­tion of tak­ing the mat­ter to the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion scheme. All ma­jor tel­cos be­long and the scheme is free for con­sumers to use.’’

I live in a block of five units in Pa­p­a­toe­toe. We do not have a body cor­po­rate so rely on the hon­esty and co-op­er­a­tion of each owner. We have shared drains so are all re­spon­si­ble for any re­pairs. We have had a ma­jor drainage re­pair which cost $4000. All other own­ers agreed to pro­ceed and be­tween the five of us it should be $800 each.

But one unit owner has not paid and is not an­swer­ing any emails nor phone calls. One of the other own­ers did have com­mu­ni­ca­tion with him and he was well aware of the re­pairs that were re­quired. We pro­vided quotes and he said he would pro­vide the same but never did. We went ahead as the prob­lem was se­ri­ous.

We are work­ing to take him to the Dis­putes Tri­bunal. How­ever, we do not know his res­i­den­tial ad­dress, so can­not serve him with the court sum­mons.

Thomas Biss, direc­tor of law firm Hen­der­son Reeves, said set­ting up a body cor­po­rate could stop this hap­pen­ing again in the fu­ture.

‘‘A for­mal body cor­po­rate would have author­ity and power to deal with this is­sue and re­cover the costs. The Dis­putes Tri­bunal is a re­ally good fo­rum and can re­solve a lot of dis­putes. So hope­fully that will deal with the prob­lem. Less for­mally, some­times a change in per­son­nel might help. Some­times two peo­ple just re­act badly to each other, and so ask­ing one of the other neigh­bours to see if they can suc­ceed might be a good idea.’’

I sold a house last year that was con­di­tional sub­ject to sew­er­age con­nec­tions be­ing com­pleted by me. There was a quote done which the buyer agreed to, and a clause added to the sales and pur­chase agree­ment stat­ing that the buyer was to pay the cost of the work and I was to or­gan­ise it and have it com­pleted by set­tle­ment date.

This was all com­pleted on time but af­ter some un­ex­pected dis­cov­er­ies along the way, the quoted work went over by $2000. The drain­layer stands by his work, as do I. The clause states that the buyer is li­able to pay for the sew­er­age work (it does not say only the quoted price).

On set­tle­ment day the buyer re­fused to pay the ex­tra and my lawyer sug­gested the only way to get the sales and pur­chase agree­ment over the line that day (I had al­ready bought else­where) was to just agree and maybe take the case to the Dis­putes Tri­bunal later. I have writ­ten to the pur­chaser re­mind­ing them of their obli­ga­tion and in­cluded a copy of the clause. I gave them 30 days to re­spond but have not heard any­thing at all. What should I do now?

The Real Es­tate Author­ity said the next step was prob­a­bly to try to en­force the con­tract. ‘‘I’d sug­gest hav­ing one more go at try­ing to con­tact and ne­go­ti­ate with the buyer, per­haps men­tion­ing they are think­ing about the Dis­putes Tri­bunal. And if not, tak­ing le­gal ad­vice, and look­ing at the Dis­putes Tri­bunal as an op­tion.’’

Do you have a con­sumer or per­sonal fi­nance ques­tion? Email su­san.ed­


Voda­fone has apol­o­gised for the freez­ing prob­lems its TV box has suf­fered since an up­grade.

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