Are you a Spark customer? Make sure you haven’t been overcharged!

Spark customers are getting overcharged! Get even more savings at Broadband Compare!
Wednesday, 21 September 2022

If you’re a current or former Spark customer, there could be a generous refund heading your way!

A recent report by the Commerce Commission reveals that Spark is currently in the process of refunding thousands of customers who were incorrectly charged a wire maintenance service fee. 

With some customers entitled to refunds of over $100, it’s important to check if you are one of these people! 

We’ve got the lowdown on everything you need to know including how to claim your refund! 

What happened? 

Spark has issued thousands of refunds to Kiwis all across the motu, after they were warned by the Commerce Commission about incorrectly charging many customers a wire maintenance service fee which they either did not need or could not benefit from. 

It all started back in 2020, when the Commerce Commission began investigating Spark, following a consumer complaint. Their investigation found that between 2014 to 2021, Spark had charged 112,600 Fibre customers and 400 Wireless customers a wire maintenance service fee. It turns out that these customers couldn’t get any use out of this service and thus should not have paid for this fee. 

Spark received over $15.7 million by collecting these fees from customers. Anna Rawlings, Commission Chair, described Spark’s conduct as likely breaching the Fair Trading Act. Rawlings explains that Spark’s website and invoicing was misleading as it made it seem like a wire maintenance service is required for all broadband connection types and that it will benefit all customers, when in fact it does not.

Since the investigation, Spark has announced to the Commerce Commission that they will refund all affected customers. So far they have refunded $15 million to 113,000 customers with $348,757.93 refunds to a further 4,921 customers left to go. 

What’s a wire maintenance service fee?

It’s important to be aware of what a wire maintenance service is, in order to remember if you have been incorrectly charged this fee in the last 7 years by Spark. 

A wire maintenance service covers the costs of maintenance on any wiring on the premises of a consumer. While providers are responsible for all maintenance on wiring and equipment before the demarcation points (the point at which the public switched telephone network ends and connects with the consumer's on-premises wiring), customers must take care of any wiring and equipment that is on their premises (after the demarcation points). 

For copper based connections (VDSL or ADSL), the demarcation point ends outside your building, therefore a wire maintenance service is likely useful. However, for Fibre connections, there is no internal wiring that needs to be maintained by the consumer, and Wireless connections don't include any wiring at all. Therefore, a wire maintenance service is not required for these connections. 

Even though this is the case, many Spark customers were automatically charged $4.95 per month for the service and had to opt-out to avoid being charged. Only after 2018, following discussions with the Commerce Commission, did Spark change the service to one where you must opt-in. 

Even so, Spark still continued to offer the service to Fibre and Wireless customers who had no need for the service. Spark did not have adequate systems in place to make sure that this service was only provided to those who could benefit from it and exclude those who did not need it. 

What has the Commerce Commission done in response?  

After the Commerce Commission’s investigation into Spark, they sent a warning letter to the provider, telling them that they need to do something about the issue at hand. Spark then announced they would refund all current and former customers. 

The Commerce Commission has highlighted the importance of this case as it affects all Kiwi consumers. 

Rawlings says this case demonstrates why providers must have systems in place that prevent customers from being misled and to make sure that their information and services are always up to date and will benefit customers. 

“Customers must be able to rely on information businesses provide to them when they are buying, contracting or being invoiced for services,” says Rawlings.

“If extra services or costs are charged, businesses must ensure that information about them is clearly disclosed to customers and is accurate, complete and easy to understand.”

Spark has ensured that they have now put systems in place to stop the wire maintenance service being offered to Fibre and Wireless customers who don’t require it. 

How do I claim my refund? 

If you’re a Spark customer: 

  • Refunds will have been applied automatically as credit. This credit may have already been used to pay off other services on your bill. 

If you’re no longer a Spark customer: 

  • Your refund can be transferred into a bank account nominated by you. You can also donate the amount or give it to another Spark customer as credit. 

To find out if you’re eligible and for any other information you may require, head to Spark’s website

Spark is working hard to contact all former customers who may be eligible for a refund. However, if you have not been contacted but feel like you are entitled to a refund, then make sure to head to Spark’s website.  Currently, out of the 4,921 former customers who are yet to claim their refund, 1,223 of them will each receive over $100 worth of refunds. So make sure to check if you can get a refund! 

Head to Broadband Compare! 

Looking to save even more money off your broadband plan than just one refund?

Then make sure to check out Broadband Compare!  

Broadband Compare is a comparison website where you can compare different broadband plans and see which one is right for you. 

Best of all, it’s super easy to use! 

Just follow these simple steps:

  • Jump onto the website.
  • Type in your address.
  • Select some filters that match your preferences.
  • Hit enter!
  • Browse all the different plans available to you & compare them side-by-side.
  • Find one you like and switch! 

Alternatively, if you’d rather chat to a friendly human, then give our customer support team a free call on 0508 22 66 72. They’ll help you find an awesome plan! 

So, if you’re a Spark customer, make sure to claim your refund! Don’t stop there though, head to Broadband Compare to claim hundreds of dollars worth of savings!


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