Air New Zealand tops list of most complained about businesses for the year

Air New Zealand tops list of most complained about businesses for the year
Photo credit: Getty Images / Newshub / File

Air New Zealand has topped the list of Aotearoa's most complained about businesses for the year, according to information from the Commerce Commission.

The airline received 329 complaints from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020, a period that comprises the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which wrought havoc on Kiwis' travel plans.

More than 300,000 customers were affected by flights that Air New Zealand was forced to cancel as of July last year. While the airline offered credit to these customers to use on future flights, some people wanted a cash refund.

In order for customers to view their credit and use it to book new flights, Air New Zealand released an online tool in July last year for people who had coronavirus-related disruptions. It meant people didn't have to call the airline's contact centre.

But CEO Greg Foran later admitted that before the online system was in place, the company was unprepared and overwhelmed by the number of people wanting refunds - as many as 75,000 customers called in on one day.

"We weren't ready to handle this," he told a select committee in Parliament in July.

"We've obviously reacted as quickly as we could. But the sheer scale ... of calls has clearly caught us in a difficult situation."

Air New Zealand wasn't the only company to receive vast numbers of complaints from Kiwis. Two telecommunications businesses were next on the list; Spark receiving 284 complaints and Vodafone receiving 266.

The Commerce Commission says larger companies are likely to receive more complaints due to their size.

"Complaints data on its own cannot paint 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 any harm has been caused to any consumer or competitor," it says.

"Some complaints will not be investigated by the Commission because they are unfounded or outside our jurisdiction, and some complaints that are investigated will not proceed to further action."

The complaints can be about one or many different issues, it says, and some problems that get a lot of publicity can generate a large number of complaints.

Top 10 most complained about companies:

  1. Air New Zealand - 329
  2. Spark - 284
  3. Vodafone - 266
  4. Foodstuffs - 157
  5. Noel Leeming - 156
  6. Woolworths - 119
  7. Flight Centre - 118
  8. The Warehouse - 103
  9. 2 Degrees Mobile - 84
  10. Jetstar Airways - 65