Telecom's compensation letter: remissly late?

By Grant Jacobs 12/01/2010

Clearing my Post Office box today, I received a letter from Telecom New Zealand Ltd. It offers compensatory bandwidth for a period of over a month… three days before it expires.

Let’s look at this closer.

This is not related to the announcement on TV news tonight of charging people who thought they were getting free dial-up connections if they subscribed to broadband.

Here they’ve “identified an issue with out Broadband Usage Meter that affected the way that your data use was being reported in our system” resulting in incorrect usage being reported.

They mention that the user might have moved to a new (presumably higher volume) plan; they offer to refund the difference as credit. OK.

They add an extra offer: “We have also doubled your monthly data allowance from 10 December until 15 January.”

But, hang on a minute.

It’s January the 12th and I’m just being told this?

If this offer applied to me, I’d have just 3 days to use extra data capacity I’ve just become aware of.

(It’s not clear to me if the compensatory data allowance is only for those that upgraded their plan, or everyone whose usage was under the meters in error. But never mind that, that doesn’t change the problem with the dates…)

So, let’s look even closer.

Their letter is dated 23 December.

Firstly, that’s two weeks after this compensatory offer is to start.

What’s with that? How are people supposed to know they have extra capacity they can use if they’re not told about it in advance?

Secondly, I just received it today, 12 January, roughly three weeks later again.

While it’s just possible it’s a postal issue, I doubt it, even allowing for Christmas mail delays. I previously cleared my P.O. Box only a few days earlier and I’m (very) sceptical of the idea that there’s a three-week mail backlog somewhere.

There is no postal stamp, so I can’t trace when it left Telecom’s hands that way, but the sleuth in me wonders the P.O. can read the bar code address information, which might contain date information?

My guess–and it is a guess, as guessing is all I can do–is that the letter was written on the December 23rd; the staff then went on leave and the letter finally left Telecom’s hands after the Christmas-New Year break, some weeks later.

If so: D’uh!

Even without that, you have to question the logic of sending it well after the compensatory time starts and immediately prior to Christmas.