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  Reply # 1215864 16-Jan-2015 09:49
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plambrechtsen:
dafman: For the record, I didn't create this thread over $48, I did so on the basis of principle. Essentially, there has (certainly from my perspective) been a fundamental breach of good faith from Spark. They offered a 12-month contract with a fixed monthly price, I accepted their offer, formalised this via a contract, only to find they reneged on the agreed pricing before we had even reached the end of the second month. And their response? - read the fine print!


I think this is where the confusion is coming from.

You can change to any available plan while in the 12 month contract or add and remove services. Such as you can move from Unlimited to the 40GB plan or from the capped (and thus throttled) or overage plan once per month while under contract. So you can change the fixed monthly price and thus how much you pay while in the 12 month contract.

The contract term applies to offset the costs Spark are charged by Chorus from connecting broadband to your house and the modem supplied to you, not the certain plan and thus monthly costs you are incurring.


There is no confusion. Let's be clear, from a consumer perspective, the MAIN determining factor when signing up to a 12 month telecom contract is the price you will pay over that contract term. Or put another way, who in their right mind would sign up to a 12 month term, and agree to financial penalties to leave early, if they have no idea what price they will ultimately be charged for the service they have just locked in? Spark advertised on the basis of price, and if that price is variable and completely at their discretion, this should be made clear at the point of contracting, not buried deep in the fine print of lengthy terms and conditions. This is just Spark - it looks like Vodafone honour pricing during contractual period (correct me if otherwise).

I'm pretty busy at work at the moment, but seriously considering taking this through to formal dispute resolution. As I said earlier, it's not the $48, it's the principle of a commercial entity operating under unfair commercial practice.

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  Reply # 1215985 16-Jan-2015 11:17
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dafman: There is no confusion. Let's be clear, from a consumer perspective, the MAIN determining factor when signing up to a 12 month telecom contract is the price you will pay over that contract term. Or put another way, who in their right mind would sign up to a 12 month term, and agree to financial penalties to leave early, if they have no idea what price they will ultimately be charged for the service they have just locked in? Spark advertised on the basis of price, and if that price is variable and completely at their discretion, this should be made clear at the point of contracting, not buried deep in the fine print of lengthy terms and conditions. This is just Spark - it looks like Vodafone honour pricing during contractual period (correct me if otherwise).

I'm pretty busy at work at the moment, but seriously considering taking this through to formal dispute resolution. As I said earlier, it's not the $48, it's the principle of a commercial entity operating under unfair commercial practice.


But, as stated, they give you the right to switch plans, which means if the plans change and prices lower you can take advantage of better pricing. What if in 6 months Spark release new plans with twice the data for $15 less - would you prefer to be locked into your current price then?

In any case, you got a free modem ($???) and install ($162) on the basis that you would remain a Spark broadband customer for at least 12 months - not that you would stay on the same plan at the same price for 12 months. If you want to end the term early you can pay an early termination fee of $199 (so unless the router is valued at less than $37, you would still be better off than if you had gone open term).

I really don't think you've been hard done by here.

I am not affiliated with any ISP.

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  Reply # 1215994 16-Jan-2015 11:25
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Paul1977:
dafman: There is no confusion. Let's be clear, from a consumer perspective, the MAIN determining factor when signing up to a 12 month telecom contract is the price you will pay over that contract term. Or put another way, who in their right mind would sign up to a 12 month term, and agree to financial penalties to leave early, if they have no idea what price they will ultimately be charged for the service they have just locked in? Spark advertised on the basis of price, and if that price is variable and completely at their discretion, this should be made clear at the point of contracting, not buried deep in the fine print of lengthy terms and conditions. This is just Spark - it looks like Vodafone honour pricing during contractual period (correct me if otherwise).

I'm pretty busy at work at the moment, but seriously considering taking this through to formal dispute resolution. As I said earlier, it's not the $48, it's the principle of a commercial entity operating under unfair commercial practice.


But, as stated, they give you the right to switch plans, which means if the plans change and prices lower you can take advantage of better pricing. What if in 6 months Spark release new plans with twice the data for $15 less - would you prefer to be locked into your current price then?

In any case, you got a free modem ($149) and install ($162) on the basis that you would remain a Spark broadband customer for at least 12 months - not that you would stay on the same plan at the same price for 12 months. If you want to end the term early you can pay an early termination fee of $199 (so unless the router is valued at less than $37, you would still be better of than if you had gone open term).

I really don't think you've been hard done by here.

I am not affiliated with any ISP.


Just added saying the Modem is $149 if purchased outright. So I completely agree with you Paul1977, the contract is for the connection not for the plan to choose to be on. So the bolded statement above saying the 12 month term is the price you will pay over that period is incorrect.

This is very different to a mobile contract where you sign up to a certain plan to subsidise the particular handset and that is factored into the price, and there is penalties for changing or terminating the plan during the contract period. In the Fixed Broadband space simply having the contract for 12 months is the requirement for the contract, not the plan you choose to be on.

And as Paul also said when/if a new plan comes out you are free to move to it during the 12 month period.

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  Reply # 1216002 16-Jan-2015 11:37
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plambrechtsen:
Paul1977:
dafman: There is no confusion. Let's be clear, from a consumer perspective, the MAIN determining factor when signing up to a 12 month telecom contract is the price you will pay over that contract term. Or put another way, who in their right mind would sign up to a 12 month term, and agree to financial penalties to leave early, if they have no idea what price they will ultimately be charged for the service they have just locked in? Spark advertised on the basis of price, and if that price is variable and completely at their discretion, this should be made clear at the point of contracting, not buried deep in the fine print of lengthy terms and conditions. This is just Spark - it looks like Vodafone honour pricing during contractual period (correct me if otherwise).

I'm pretty busy at work at the moment, but seriously considering taking this through to formal dispute resolution. As I said earlier, it's not the $48, it's the principle of a commercial entity operating under unfair commercial practice.


But, as stated, they give you the right to switch plans, which means if the plans change and prices lower you can take advantage of better pricing. What if in 6 months Spark release new plans with twice the data for $15 less - would you prefer to be locked into your current price then?

In any case, you got a free modem ($149) and install ($162) on the basis that you would remain a Spark broadband customer for at least 12 months - not that you would stay on the same plan at the same price for 12 months. If you want to end the term early you can pay an early termination fee of $199 (so unless the router is valued at less than $37, you would still be better of than if you had gone open term).

I really don't think you've been hard done by here.

I am not affiliated with any ISP.


Just added saying the Modem is $149 if purchased outright. So I completely agree with you Paul1977, the contract is for the connection not for the plan to choose to be on. So the bolded statement above saying the 12 month term is the price you will pay over that period is incorrect.

This is very different to a mobile contract where you sign up to a certain plan to subsidise the particular handset and that is factored into the price, and there is penalties for changing or terminating the plan during the contract period. In the Fixed Broadband space simply having the contract for 12 months is the requirement for the contract, not the plan you choose to be on.

And as Paul also said when/if a new plan comes out you are free to move to it during the 12 month period.


I think what he was really saying with the bolded statement (dafman, correct me if I'm wrong); is that the total cost over 12 months is the deciding factor (not necessarily that the specific wording of the contact says this), and if he had realized the price could increase he may not have signed on for 12 months. However, this is a matter of him making an incorrect assumption (although admittedly an easy assumption to make).





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  Reply # 1216014 16-Jan-2015 11:46
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plambrechtsen:
Paul1977:
dafman: There is no confusion. Let's be clear, from a consumer perspective, the MAIN determining factor when signing up to a 12 month telecom contract is the price you will pay over that contract term. Or put another way, who in their right mind would sign up to a 12 month term, and agree to financial penalties to leave early, if they have no idea what price they will ultimately be charged for the service they have just locked in? Spark advertised on the basis of price, and if that price is variable and completely at their discretion, this should be made clear at the point of contracting, not buried deep in the fine print of lengthy terms and conditions. This is just Spark - it looks like Vodafone honour pricing during contractual period (correct me if otherwise).

I'm pretty busy at work at the moment, but seriously considering taking this through to formal dispute resolution. As I said earlier, it's not the $48, it's the principle of a commercial entity operating under unfair commercial practice.


But, as stated, they give you the right to switch plans, which means if the plans change and prices lower you can take advantage of better pricing. What if in 6 months Spark release new plans with twice the data for $15 less - would you prefer to be locked into your current price then?

In any case, you got a free modem ($149) and install ($162) on the basis that you would remain a Spark broadband customer for at least 12 months - not that you would stay on the same plan at the same price for 12 months. If you want to end the term early you can pay an early termination fee of $199 (so unless the router is valued at less than $37, you would still be better of than if you had gone open term).

I really don't think you've been hard done by here.

I am not affiliated with any ISP.


Just added saying the Modem is $149 if purchased outright. So I completely agree with you Paul1977, the contract is for the connection not for the plan to choose to be on. So the bolded statement above saying the 12 month term is the price you will pay over that period is incorrect.

This is very different to a mobile contract where you sign up to a certain plan to subsidise the particular handset and that is factored into the price, and there is penalties for changing or terminating the plan during the contract period. In the Fixed Broadband space simply having the contract for 12 months is the requirement for the contract, not the plan you choose to be on.

And as Paul also said when/if a new plan comes out you are free to move to it during the 12 month period.


If Spark promoted the terms of their broadband contract to customers per your explanations above, there wouldn't be an issue. The problem is that they don't - they promote these on the basis of price, yet bury terms clarifying that stated contract price is of no relevance. And the discussion about moving to lower priced plans is irrelevant - I'm not asking, or even expecting, the right to swap into lower price plans for free (theoretical of course, as they don't exist in reality) - I just want Spark to stand by the clearly implied terms of our contract. (BTW, I didn't require the proprietary Spark modem, it just came bundled regardless).



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  Reply # 1216015 16-Jan-2015 11:48
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Paul1977:
plambrechtsen:
Paul1977:
dafman: There is no confusion. Let's be clear, from a consumer perspective, the MAIN determining factor when signing up to a 12 month telecom contract is the price you will pay over that contract term. Or put another way, who in their right mind would sign up to a 12 month term, and agree to financial penalties to leave early, if they have no idea what price they will ultimately be charged for the service they have just locked in? Spark advertised on the basis of price, and if that price is variable and completely at their discretion, this should be made clear at the point of contracting, not buried deep in the fine print of lengthy terms and conditions. This is just Spark - it looks like Vodafone honour pricing during contractual period (correct me if otherwise).

I'm pretty busy at work at the moment, but seriously considering taking this through to formal dispute resolution. As I said earlier, it's not the $48, it's the principle of a commercial entity operating under unfair commercial practice.


But, as stated, they give you the right to switch plans, which means if the plans change and prices lower you can take advantage of better pricing. What if in 6 months Spark release new plans with twice the data for $15 less - would you prefer to be locked into your current price then?

In any case, you got a free modem ($149) and install ($162) on the basis that you would remain a Spark broadband customer for at least 12 months - not that you would stay on the same plan at the same price for 12 months. If you want to end the term early you can pay an early termination fee of $199 (so unless the router is valued at less than $37, you would still be better of than if you had gone open term).

I really don't think you've been hard done by here.

I am not affiliated with any ISP.


Just added saying the Modem is $149 if purchased outright. So I completely agree with you Paul1977, the contract is for the connection not for the plan to choose to be on. So the bolded statement above saying the 12 month term is the price you will pay over that period is incorrect.

This is very different to a mobile contract where you sign up to a certain plan to subsidise the particular handset and that is factored into the price, and there is penalties for changing or terminating the plan during the contract period. In the Fixed Broadband space simply having the contract for 12 months is the requirement for the contract, not the plan you choose to be on.

And as Paul also said when/if a new plan comes out you are free to move to it during the 12 month period.


I think what he was really saying with the bolded statement (dafman, correct me if I'm wrong); is that the total cost over 12 months is the deciding factor (not necessarily that the specific wording of the contact says this), and if he had realized the price could increase he may not have signed on for 12 months. However, this is a matter of him making an incorrect assumption (although admittedly an easy assumption to make).




Incorrect assumption, yes, but the assumption that any reasonable person would arrive at given Spark's promotion of their product.

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  Reply # 1216043 16-Jan-2015 12:07
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dafman: If Spark promoted the terms of their broadband contract to customers per your explanations above, there wouldn't be an issue. The problem is that they don't - they promote these on the basis of price, yet bury terms clarifying that stated contract price is of no relevance. And the discussion about moving to lower priced plans is irrelevant - I'm not asking, or even expecting, the right to swap into lower price plans for free (theoretical of course, as they don't exist in reality) - I just want Spark to stand by the clearly implied terms of our contract. (BTW, I didn't require the proprietary Spark modem, it just came bundled regardless).


Dropping to a lower plan yourself obviously isn't an option, but for other users it may well be. The point is that these changes are allowed within the twelve months, and that it's a double edged sword. I'm sure many clients have benefited from this. And I believe if the price is locked one way, it has to be locked the other way.

However, as you mentioned, how the contract model works isn't your objection - it's how it's advertised. Of course Spark are going to advertise based on price, how else would they promote it? And the provision that allows them to increase the price is always going to be in the fine print - no company in their right mind would advertise this more than they are legally obligated to, that's just business.

And, at least to me, it has always been pretty clear that what you are getting in return for the 12 month sign-up is the free install. I don't think they've ever promoted the term of the contract based on the monthly cost (like they do with fixed vs floating interest rates).

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  Reply # 1216046 16-Jan-2015 12:11
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dafman: If Spark promoted the terms of their broadband contract to customers per your explanations above, there wouldn't be an issue. The problem is that they don't - they promote these on the basis of price, yet bury terms clarifying that stated contract price is of no relevance. And the discussion about moving to lower priced plans is irrelevant - I'm not asking, or even expecting, the right to swap into lower price plans for free (theoretical of course, as they don't exist in reality) - I just want Spark to stand by the clearly implied terms of our contract. (BTW, I didn't require the proprietary Spark modem, it just came bundled regardless).


And to be fair, I haven't been in the same boat as you. I have only ever had prices drop while I have been in a contract and have benefited from it. Would I be annoyed if i was in your shoes... yeah, but I'd probably chalk it up to bad luck.

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  Reply # 1216051 16-Jan-2015 12:19
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dafman: If Spark promoted the terms of their broadband contract to customers per your explanations above, there wouldn't be an issue. The problem is that they don't - they promote these on the basis of price, yet bury terms clarifying that stated contract price is of no relevance. And the discussion about moving to lower priced plans is irrelevant - I'm not asking, or even expecting, the right to swap into lower price plans for free (theoretical of course, as they don't exist in reality) - I just want Spark to stand by the clearly implied terms of our contract. (BTW, I didn't require the proprietary Spark modem, it just came bundled regardless).


If you click on the Internet page: http://www.spark.co.nz/shop/internet/

Then depending on which access type, lets assume ADSL you click on the Pricing Plans: http://www.spark.co.nz/shop/internet/adsl/

Then down the bottom of each plan there is the link saying "Legal Offer Summary": https://store.spark.co.nz/internet/page/adslbroadbandoffersummary/

Set Up Charges Setup charges differ depending on the contract option you choose. There are 3 options:

 

     

  1. You'll get a free standard connection and a modem on a 12 month contract.
  2. You'll get a free standard connection on a 6 month contract, but you'll need to supply your own modem.
  3. Take an Open Term contract and pay a $99 connection fee (you can either bring your own modem, or buy one from us for $149)

 

Note that a modem postage and handling fee of $9.95 applies to all new modems supplied.
The same / similar applies in VDSL and UFB.
VDSL: https://store.spark.co.nz/internet/page/ultravdsloffersummary/
UFB: https://store.spark.co.nz/internet/page/ultrafibre30offersummary/

That was just below the link that you clicked to purchase the plan.

Since you didn't need a modem then you could have signed up to a 6 month contract, or as stated above pay the $99 connection fee and not be in a contract at all.

Yes they don't explicitly say you can change plans but I thought the above was pretty clear about what the contract entails.



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  Reply # 1216094 16-Jan-2015 13:38
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plambrechtsen:
dafman: If Spark promoted the terms of their broadband contract to customers per your explanations above, there wouldn't be an issue. The problem is that they don't - they promote these on the basis of price, yet bury terms clarifying that stated contract price is of no relevance. And the discussion about moving to lower priced plans is irrelevant - I'm not asking, or even expecting, the right to swap into lower price plans for free (theoretical of course, as they don't exist in reality) - I just want Spark to stand by the clearly implied terms of our contract. (BTW, I didn't require the proprietary Spark modem, it just came bundled regardless).


If you click on the Internet page: http://www.spark.co.nz/shop/internet/

Then depending on which access type, lets assume ADSL you click on the Pricing Plans: http://www.spark.co.nz/shop/internet/adsl/

Then down the bottom of each plan there is the link saying "Legal Offer Summary": https://store.spark.co.nz/internet/page/adslbroadbandoffersummary/

Set Up Charges Setup charges differ depending on the contract option you choose. There are 3 options:

 

     

  1. You'll get a free standard connection and a modem on a 12 month contract.
  2. You'll get a free standard connection on a 6 month contract, but you'll need to supply your own modem.
  3. Take an Open Term contract and pay a $99 connection fee (you can either bring your own modem, or buy one from us for $149)

 

Note that a modem postage and handling fee of $9.95 applies to all new modems supplied.
The same / similar applies in VDSL and UFB.
VDSL: https://store.spark.co.nz/internet/page/ultravdsloffersummary/
UFB: https://store.spark.co.nz/internet/page/ultrafibre30offersummary/

That was just below the link that you clicked to purchase the plan.

Since you didn't need a modem then you could have signed up to a 6 month contract, or as stated above pay the $99 connection fee and not be in a contract at all.

Yes they don't explicitly say you can change plans but I thought the above was pretty clear about what the contract entails.


You are correct, at the bottom of each plan there is a link saying "Legal Offer Summary." If you open that link, you will find information on service description, availability, service charges, additional data charges, set up charges, access types, minimum contract periods, early termination fees, notice periods, other requirements, traffic management, fair use, effects on other services, other charges and disputes.

YET, despite all this detail on the minutia of incidental and additional costs, the legal summary is COMPLETELY SILENT on the fact that the most significant part of the contract from the consumer perspective -ie, the contract price Spark offers, can be changed at any time, for any reason, at Sparks discretion during the contract term.



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  Reply # 1216099 16-Jan-2015 13:45
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Of course Spark are going to advertise based on price, how else would they promote it? And the provision that allows them to increase the price is always going to be in the fine print - no company in their right mind would advertise this more than they are legally obligated to, that's just business.


You are wrong, that's not just business. A lot of companies do fairly advertise and communicate key contractual terms of importance to consumers - I deal with many of them every day.

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  Reply # 1216182 16-Jan-2015 16:12
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dafman:You are correct, at the bottom of each plan there is a link saying "Legal Offer Summary." If you open that link, you will find information on service description, availability, service charges, additional data charges, set up charges, access types, minimum contract periods, early termination fees, notice periods, other requirements, traffic management, fair use, effects on other services, other charges and disputes.

YET, despite all this detail on the minutia of incidental and additional costs, the legal summary is COMPLETELY SILENT on the fact that the most significant part of the contract from the consumer perspective -ie, the contract price Spark offers, can be changed at any time, for any reason, at Sparks discretion during the contract term.


But by reading through the Legal Offer Summary links the word contract is only mentioned in under the "Setup Charges" section of the document, plus also in the Minimum Term and ETCs in reference to the Setup Charges.

It's not mentioned anywhere else on that page. So logic would say that if the Contract only talks about Setup Charges, then that is where it would only apply.

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  Reply # 1216730 17-Jan-2015 22:31
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Paul1977:

In any case, you got a free modem ($???) and install ($162) on the basis that you would remain a Spark broadband customer for at least 12 months - not that you would stay on the same plan at the same price for 12 months. If you want to end the term early you can pay an early termination fee of $199 (so unless the router is valued at less than $37, you would still be better off than if you had gone open term).



Better off paying the $162 install, is 12 months really worth $162? A lot can change in 12 months. As for a modem most people have their own by now, or you can pick up a brand spanking new Spark (Vodafone, other ISP, etc) modem off Trade me for peanuts as everyone tries to ditch them.

Bigpipe has the right idea.

In the past when I've signed up for a 12 month contract it has meant that price was guaranteed/honored for the term of the contract other wise it seems silly to be tied in for 12 months at the mercy of the ISP.

Orcon and Vodafone have done this in past and kept the price the same, probably the only thing Vodafone has got right of late is not upping the price for on contract customers.

The other strange thing is that this is the first increase in price I've had, most of the time it's increasing data or drop in price.

But at the end of the day it comes down the ISP and their T&C.



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  Reply # 1216736 17-Jan-2015 22:36
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Oh and Slingshot is also currently holding the price for this month only if you sign up :-)



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  Reply # 1221759 25-Jan-2015 10:48
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Lurch: Oh and Slingshot is also currently holding the price for this month only if you sign up :-)


Ok, I have confirmed that Vodafone are honouring contractual pricing, specifically Vodafone state in their update letter:

"From 1 February 2015, the monthly fee for your plan will increase by $4 per month. However, because you are only part way through your contract term, we will apply a monthly credit of $4 to your account until the end of your current contract term, so you will not have an extra charge during that time."

This leaves Spark as the only ISP that I am aware of that is increasing pricing for in-contract customers; a contract I would argue is promoted on the clearly implied basis that this is a fixed price product (ie. like all the other ISPs). I'm done and dusted with Spark on anniversary of my contract term. And for readers considering signing or switching ISPs, consider yourself forewarned about Spark's "small print" approach to its consumer contracts.

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