DAVID BLANC / THINGS
Air New Zealand canceled thousands of flights and planes on the ground as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Trade Commission received more complaints about Air New Zealand than any other airline during the year through June 2020, according to the market watchdog.
But the Trade Commission said a complaint filed against a company did not necessarily mean the company had done anything wrong and that larger companies were generating more complaints about its size and scale. Also, some complaints were not investigated because they were unfounded, he said.
Information published under the Official Information Act (OIA) shows that Air New Zealand was the subject of 329 customer complaints to the Trade Commission in a year in which the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the aviation sector .
Air New Zealand canceled more than four million seats due to Covid-19 travel restrictions and falling passenger demand, causing customers to flood the airline’s call centers and social media channels looking for answers.
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In most cases, Air New Zealand offered customers credit, not refunds, for their canceled flights, which sparked widespread criticism, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Chief executive Greg Foran told a select committee that his call centers received up to 75,000 daily calls from customers, and apologized to those who had a bad experience with the airline.
He had simply been shocked by the magnitude of the pandemic, he said.
Telcos Spark and Vodafone were the next companies to complain the most with 284 and 266 complaints respectively.
In its response to the OIA, the Trade Commission said the data on the complaints did not represent a complete picture of compliance with the law.
“The fact that a complaint has been received does not necessarily mean that a trader has done anything wrong or caused any harm to any consumer or competitor.”
Some complaints were not investigated by the commission because they were unfounded or outside its jurisdiction, and some complaints that were investigated would not require further action.
The data only reflected what people had chosen to report to the commission or other organizations that had passed it on to the commission, he said.
“Larger retailers are likely to generate more complaints based on their scale.”
The volumes of claims for a trader could be one or more issues.
Some issues that attracted a high level of publicity could generate a large volume of complaints, he said.
THE MOST COMPLAINT OF COMPANIES
- Air New Zealand: 329 complaints
- Spark: 284 complaints (including complaints received about Skinny Mobile, Big Pipe and its Spark Sport product)
- Vodafone: 266 complaints
- Food: 157 complaints (including complaints received about the New World, Pak ‘n Save and Four Square)
- Noel Leeming: 156 complaints
- Woolworths: 119 complaints (including complaints received about Countdown, SuperValue and Fresh Choice)
- Flight Center: 118 complaints
- The Warehouse – 103 complaints (this is limited to complaints about The Warehouse)
- 2 mobile grades: 84 complaints
- Jetstar: 65 complaints