Rugby World Cup 2019: Spark's shocking last-minute warning to Tournament Pass customer

An Auckland woman has been left stunned, after an email from Spark advised her that her broadband plan wouldn't stream her Rugby World Cup pass on the tournament's opening day.

Former Newshub sports presenter Michelle Pickles had purchased the broadband plan - which included the World Cup package - for her holiday home in Whitianga.

But on Friday, Pickles was told the newly purchased connection wouldn't handle the World Cup pass stream, leaving her just hours to find an alternative method of viewing the Japan v Russia opener at 10:45pm.

"You recently took up our Broadband Plan offer, which included a Spark Sport Rugby World Cup 2019 Tournament Pass," wrote Spark.

"Unfortunately, the internet connection at [Pickles' address] isn't fast enough to stream live sport, so you'll need a new plan."

Pickles posted the email to Twitter, with the comment: "Well, that's not an ideal email to receive on the day the RWC kicks off."

"I'm just really disappointed," Pickles told Newshub. "[The email] says you need a plan. Well, I had a plan, but clearly that plan isn't going to work."

One of the alternatives Spark offered was watching the games "somewhere else".

"If that wasn't so stupidly funny I'd probably cry. I just found that a little bit flippant, to be honest."

Between June 17-September 12, Spark offered a free World Cup Tournament Pass to new broadband customers, or existing customers who renewed a contract or upgraded their plan.

Spark released a statement in response, which said the late surge of subscribers to the World Cup pass had caused issues with "cross-checking" the quality of those connections.

"As New Zealanders have been purchasing Rugby World Cup tournament passes in the last few months, we have been doing behind-the-scenes cross-checks to identify which of them are Spark Broadband or Mobile customers, and then confirming whether their broadband is okay," it said.

"Because we have seen the number of customers signing up for a Spark Sport RWC Tournament pass swell hugely, we've stepped up these cross checks and communicated with a number of additional customers in the last few days.

"We absolutely appreciate that this will be unwelcome news for customers just before the start of the tournament, but we believe it's better to be up front with them."

Spark has previously acknowledged that not all homes could run the World Cup pass, due to the quality of their broadband connection.

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