Saturday, January 18, 2014


When I first read the letter from the marketing manger of Telecom I couldn’t believe it. Then I thought I must have read it wrong. Now I’m not so sure.

It is not a long letter – twelve lines, not counting the big bold headings. Admirably short in fact, given the tendency of large entities to waffle and fudge.  However, the brevity might have been a mistake in this case because I am confused about the message.

Girl in Red Dress
The letter announces in large letters that there will be SOME CHANGES TO YOUR TELECOM PLANS. Three lines follow, explaining that the new plans deliver “more value than ever before”.  Well, that’s always nice.  But apparently they need to make some changes.

Next headline: GET MORE FROM YOUR ONE BILL.  I’m all for that, tell me how. So, they are going to introduce “a flat fee of $3 a month”.  Not much – but why? I already pay a monthly fee. Well, the $3 is for “15 anytime minutes to any standard NZ landline or mobile.”  I assume this means not just local calls, which till now have been free, but to anywhere in NZ. That would be progress, and very welcome. Another plus is the inclusion of free calls to mobiles, which currently cost far too much.  So far, so mostly good.

Then comes the confusing bit: “Once you’ve used your 15 minutes, calls will be 69c/min.” My first thought was that this meant 15 minutes free-calling for the month. My second thought was, silly me, surely not, that’s ridiculous, 15 minutes would be used up on the first day – probably the first morning.

But just when I relaxed with a sigh of relief, I saw another line saying that from March my bill would show the “monthly fee (includes 15 anytime NZ minutes) $3.00/month”. So, back to square one: is it 15 free minutes a month or per call?

Please will someone tell me. It’s no use ringing Telecom – I just tried. The last headline in the letter reads: NEED TO KNOW MORE? JUST ASK and invites me to phone the customer service line. They have to be joking – all their representatives were busy with other calls.  If I am going to have to pay 69c per minute after the first 15 minutes I won’t be calling any company or government department that puts me on hold, has installed automated answering, or runs a call centre based in the Philippines. I can’t afford it.

Postscript (24 January): It has now become clear, after many enquiries and eyebrow-knotting, that the letter I received applies only to my mobile. Phew, that's a relief! Rest easy folks. 


  1. I wish I could help but I seldom understand any official letter I receive. Recently Genesis sent me a letter asking me if I'd like to join their (some fancy name) plan as I 'might pay less'. I phoned their call centre and said that 'might' wasn't very persuasive because if I didn't pay less I'd pay more. Josh worked it out carefully for me and concluded that with the new plan I'd probably pay less in summer and more in winter. He suggested I could change plans every six months 'but some of our customers don't think this is a good scheme because they'd forget to change schemes'. I told Josh I was one of those and might just stay with the plan I'm on. He said kindly he thought that was probably a good idea 'given your current consumption patterns Jane' He then asked me if there was anything else he could help me with today.

  2. Hi Jane - nice to hear from you! I know people who are forever chopping and changing plans / companies in some sort of bizarre merry-go-round, chasing the better deals. It seems awfully pointless to me. As for Telecom, I think when the time comes I shall refrain from calling anyone likely to rabbit on for more than 15 minutes, and keep a stop-watch handy for the rest - at least until I find out what my March account looks like!