Service charge

Spark reimburses 113,000 customers after service charges deemed unnecessary

Telecom company Spark has been warned by the Commerce Commission after some customers were charged for a service they did not need.

Spark office in Christchurch. File photo.
Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Spark has reimbursed around $15 million to nearly 113,000 customers after being billed for cable maintenance service between 2014 and early 2021.

The Commission began investigating Spark after a complaint in 2020.

Commission chairwoman Anna Rawlings said Spark’s conduct likely violated the Fair Trading Act, with the company giving the impression via its website that a cable maintenance service was suitable for all connection types, so that he was not.

She said Spark also made misrepresentations by charging customers for the service, which had no use or benefit.

“Customers need to be able to rely on the information companies provide to them when they purchase, contract or are billed for services,” Rawlings said.

“Companies should not charge customers for services they do not need or need, or for services they cannot afford. If additional services or costs are charged, companies must ensure that information about them is clearly disclosed to customers and is accurate, complete and easy to understand,” she said.

Spark had since stopped selling the service to wireless and fiber optic connect services, the commission said.

Last month, Spark had just under 5,000 customers to refund, with 1,200 former customers eligible to receive more than $100 each.

The commission said that for affected customers who were still Spark customers, refunds were being applied as a credit to their accounts.

Customers who were no longer with the provider could have refunds sent to a designated bank account, given away, or transferred to another customer’s Spark account.