Monday, March 07, 2011

It just doesn't follow

My Friday collection of brief links included one about comments made about the NBN. This elicited a comment from Ian noting he wasn't sure if my reference was sarcasm but that the AFP argument was ludicrous.

For the record, it was, and I agree with the assessment.

But these sort of things abound. Let's also look at the review of the TIO I also mentioned on Friday.

In announcing the review Minister Conroy said;

The recently released TIO statistics show that complaints to the Ombudsman remain at very high levels and this is not acceptable. While I acknowledge the hard work the TIO does to deliver consumers with quick and effective solutions, I want to ensure it has the appropriate tools to deal with complaints.

This got written up by one online journal as;

In a statement, Conroy said he had called for the review, because the number of complaints received by the TIO was unacceptably high.

This doesn't follow. It is at the very least not an accurate description of the Minister's release. If it is a restatement following a discussion, it still doesn't follow.

Why would a high level of utilisation of a service ever imply something wrong with the service? Surely the correct focus is on the providers, as the ACMA is doing with its Reconnecting the Customer project.

Meanwhile Lucy Battersby has done a really good job of looking at the cause and implications of Telstra's move to "per minute" billing.

The item points out that Telstra justified moving fixed line from per second to thirty second blocks two yrars ago to harmonize with mobile billing. But now they are taking both to per minute claiming it puts them in line with "industry standards".

Optus "followed suit" on the per second to thirty second move - claiming the move was to make price comparisons easier.

Telstra goes on to say that of course most customers won't be affected because they are on some kind of bucket plan and don't use the whole bucket.

Unfortunately Chris Zinn from CHOICE decides to hone in on the flagfall charges rather than asking the really obvious question. Since all of the price moves have been justified as simplifying things for customers, including price comparison, why not simply agree an industry standard measure and have everyone stick to it? It really isn't much different to agreeing to measure weight in kilograms and distance in kilometres. Standardisation of units of measure is an important institution that makes markets work!

I know the answer will be about competition and innovation. But it doesn't follow. As the providers own rhetoric shows consumers can't price compare plans using different charging bases.

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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