INDEPENDENT NEWS

Telecom ripping off rural people

Published: Tue 5 Nov 2002 06:50 PM
Telecom ripping off rural people
Telecom is ripping off rural people with its decision to hike connection fees by upwards of 2400 per cent in the most isolated areas, Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald said today.
Telecom's decision to scrap the standard $61.88 connection fee and apply population-based charges was outrageous, Mr Donald said.
"This callous move by Telecom takes advantage of rural people and is another good reason why Telecom should never have been privatised in the first place. When you introduce a competitive marketplace to a strategic service, competitors will inevitably cherry-pick the high density areas; while monopoly providers hike charges in areas where there are no alternatives," Mr Donald said.
"Telecom is clearly breaching the spirit of the Kiwi Share agreement and we call on the Government to enforce equitable access to telephone services for all New Zealanders - whether they live in the heart of the city or the heart of the country."
Telecom has acknowledged the new charges could see rural residents and businesses in isolated areas paying as much as $1500 for a new telephone connection; and in some cases even higher. The new connection fees range from $95 for high density population areas, through $250 for medium density areas, to an unspecified amount for low density areas (price on application). Telecom has said $1500 would apply for most of the isolated area of Karamea, on New Zealand's West Coast; but that more isolated customers could pay even more.
Mr Donald said it was cowardly and sneaky that Telecom had not advertised the price rises, choosing instead to inform customers as they inquired.

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