Commerce Commission

Countdown just can’t win


I’ve lost count of the number of weeks it’s been with Countdown being in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Their PR spin team of Kate Porter, her boss Richard Manaton and PR consultant Sue Wood really must not give a tinkers’ cuss about how Countdown’s reputation is going down the gurgler with the NZ public.

With a Commerce Commission investigation heating up against Countdown, they don’t seem to care that they’re now seen as bullying and threatening local councils over their local alcohol policies.

Seems Countdown doesn’t care about local communities, just about their bottom line.

Either that or they’re pissed at being given a slap for selling booze to a man so completely off his chops he could hardly stand, and think they’re right and everyone else is wrong.

Then today, Countdown faces another test of its credibility with apples and peaches sold in their supermarkets at risk of Hep A. Granted, it’s not only limited to Countdown, but they’re in the thick of it none the less. Here’s the public health advisory.


The public grow tired of companies that seem to think they’re better than everyone else, and tend to take their business elsewhere. No wonder Pak N Save is winning.

Labour wants to tax ISPs, watch them tax you in return with higher charges

Labour continue to show what a bunch of muppets they are with their ICT policy that was inadvertently leaked to National showing they want to tax ISPs.

It shows their complete lack of business acumen. They are suggesting a tax on the entire internet via ISPs.

Any cost lumped onto a business like an ISP is simply going to be passed straight onto the customer leading to higher charges.

Telecom is bristling at the suggestion Labour could impose a “content levy” on internet providers.

Labour was left red-faced today after MP Clare Curran’s ideas on ICT policy were accidentally emailed to her National Party counterpart, Communications Minister Amy Adams.

These include imposing a revenue-based levy on telecommunications carriers to create a contestable fund to support the “creation and accessible distribution of New Zealand digital content”.

Another suggestion is a “digital bill of rights” policed by the Human Rights Commission that would “guarantee a citizen privacy”.

Curran, who is associate communications and information technology spokeswoman and Labour’s spokeswoman on “open government”, said the ideas titled “ICT Policy Framework 2014” were sent to Adams’ office this morning. She did not personally send the email, she said.   Read more »

Countdown now facing enquiry by the Commerce Commission

Life is getting very tough for Countdown now.

Shane Jones alleged standover and mafioso like tactics from Countdown in a speech in parliament. Now he has laid his complaint with the Commerce Commission.

The Commission has announced an inquiry.

The Commerce Commission has confirmed it is formally investigating the allegations of anti-competitive behavior towards suppliers by Countdown.

The investigation will involve seeking a wide range of information from a variety of sources, including organisations from all areas of the supermarket sector. The investigation is expected to take a number of months.  Read more »

Suppliers fearful of retaliation – Shane Jones

Nice to see Shane Jones doing something constructive with his time, defending the livelihoods of NZ suppliers to NZ and Australian supermarkets.

Under the cover of parliamentary privilege this afternoon, Mr Jones asked Commerce Minister Craig Foss whether he was “concerned that despite anonymity… New Zealand based suppliers are fearful that what they tell the regulator could be passed on to [Countdown parent company] the Australian Woolworths supermarket chain and they could end up blacklisted off Australian supermarket shelves”.

Mr Foss pointed to the commission’s press release last week “reinforcing the confidential nature of any complaint”.

“The Commerce Commission, as part of their normal business, are dealing with sensitive affairs at all times and as in their press released treat matters in confidence and very sensitively”.

Jones has been asked to repeat his accusations outside of parliament, but it turns out that he was prevented from making more details public

Mr Jones’ questions followed his successful bid this afternoon to have Parliament authorise the public release of his letter of complaint to the commission. The letter was tabled in Parliament last week but Clerk of the House Mary Harris deemed the risk of defamation action against her office too great if she was to release it more widely than just to MPs.

NZ First Leader Winston Peters moved that the House order the Clerk of the House release the letter, a motion that was passed without opposition.   Read more »

Commerce Commission seeks to break Countdown’s OmertĂ 

The Commerce Commission has announced they are offering confidentiality now as they investigate Countdown’s tactics.

This will allow the suppliers to safely speak outside of the Omertà arrangements that are clearly in place with suppliers too afraid to speak up.

The Commerce Commission confirmed yesterday that it is assessing alleged anti-competitive behaviour by Countdown towards their suppliers.

The Commission advises that anyone who has information relevant to the allegations can request that the Commission keep their identity and/or the information provided confidential. The Commission will not disclose the identity and/or information unless consent is given or the Commission is required to by law. If confidentiality is a concern then it should be raised when first contact is made with the Commission.  Read more »

Shane Jones launches attack against Countdown’s mafioso tactics

We have been writing about Countdown’s mafioso tactics for weeks now and yesterday Shane Jones went to town on Countdown in parliament.

The NZ Herald reports:

Progressive Enterprises has shot back at Labour MP Shane Jones after he claimed in Parliament that New Zealand suppliers are being blackmailed into making payments to Australian owned supermarket chain Countdown to ensure their products continue to be stocked.

There are a lot of suppliers, I’ve spoken to some too, either they are suffering a mass delusion with remarkably similar stories, or they are telling the truth. Progressive Enterprises can categorically deny this all they like but there are too many instances for this to be a mass delusion. Using trite press releases to try and counter facts and details won’t work. Fessing up is now the only option.  Read more »

Rodney Hide on Chorus

Rodney Hide has a good article in the NBR about Chorus [paywalled], Matthew Hooton’s corporate wrecking crew and businesses exposed to government meddling.

I was reminded of Professor Ron Johnson when National talked up the Big Idea of the 2008 election: its promise to spend $1.5 billion kick-starting ultra-fast broadband. It showed National having vision, National proving tech savvy and National switched on to the needs of modern business and young voters.

Oh, and National would enlist private enterprise to deliver, so putting distance between Muldoon’s disastrous policies and modern National. The government would simply set the contracts and provide the money. That showed National had learned and could still “Think Big” while valuing private enterprise.

The policy has proved what every free-market thinker feared: a political, economic and technologic cluster bomb. Telcos – and potential telcos – focused on lobbying, not providing service; the policy chilled investment and development as business had to await government decisions; and politics now dominates and dictates telecommunications.  Read more »

One of Hooton’s corporate wrecking crew busted with $250k fine

Matthew Hooton is heading up the corporate wrecking crew of self interested parties intent on destroying Chorus so they can trouser even more profits.

One of the crew is Slingshot and their parent CallPlus. And we can judge them and their honesty by the massive fine they were just stung with in the Auckland District Court.

Slingshot – the consumer division of ISP CallPlus – has been fined $250,000 after pleading guilty in the Auckland District Court today to 50 charges it faced under the Fair Trading Act in relation to the marketing of its telecommunications services.

“We have accepted the findings of the Commerce Commission and the fine that was issued today,” CallPlus CEO Mark Callander tells NBR.

“We have cooperated fully with the Commerce Commission throughout this process and we have taken this matter very seriously. Most importantly, we have apologised to the 27 customers who were impacted by the actions of the third party telemarketing company, Power Marketing. It is good to finally resolve the matter so we can focus on the opportunities ahead.”  Read more »

The truth about the Coalition for Fair Internet Pricing

WreckingCrew copy

Earlier today, I blogged about how Matthew Hooton, Paul Brislen, Vodafone and a host of vested interests have duped Kiwi households out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Essentially, the Labour-leaning Coalition for Fair Internet Pricing conned media into thinking their campaign was about going into bat for Kiwi households. But it is actually about lining the pockets of greedy telcos like Vodafone, Orcon, Slingshot and their mates.

I want to refer people to the Coalition’s original press release when it launched its campaign.

Now that media have finally wised up to what I have been saying, I have made some changes to the Coalition’s press release to more accurately reflect its true position.

Broad Coalition Says Yes To $600 Million Windfall for Telcos

A coalition of Kiwi companies, industry associations and consumer advocate groups has today announced proposals to introduce what economists Covec say is a new windfall of at least $600 million for telcos such as Vodafone, Orcon, Slingshot and Telecom.

In a discussion document issued last month, Communications & IT Minister Amy Adams proposed to provide certainty for both the industry and Kiwi households by overruling a crazy determination by the Commerce Commission that would see Chorus stripped off hundreds of millions of dollars it planned it use for the rollout of ultra-fast broadband.   Read more »

How Matthew Hooton duped Kiwi households out of hundreds of millions of dollars

The penny has finally dropped for the media – they have been duped by corporate whore and business wrecker Matthew Hooton.

But this is actually deadly serious.

Hooton’s lies have shaved more than $500 million off the value of Chorus, left thousands of shareholders crapping themselves, given New Zealand a poor reputation internationally as a place to invest, and ripped off Kiwi households.

Hooton and his band of weirdos and nut jobs have conned media into believing that households were going to have a “copper tax” imposed on them. Th entire premise of the campaign was based on a lie.

They did this by claiming that if the government legislated over the Commerce Commission’s crazy $10 a month reduction in the copper price, Chorus would be getting about $400 million that should instead be going to Kiwi households instead.

As part of their campaign, Hooton’s mob promised that every Kiwi household would pay $150 less a year for their broadband.

But now that the government has decided to let the commission’s price stand, the actual truth has emerged. From day one Hooton’s campaign has been about lining the pockets of Vodafone and the other corporate bludgers who were part of the campaign.

That’s right. Their campaign that was based on going into bat for Kiwi households, will actually see Vodafone, as the largest player in this Game of Moans, reap hundreds of millions of dollars in extra revenue.

Kiwi households have been ripped off. Their broadband bill won’t drop by $150 a year – in fact it won’t drop at all.

By refusing to confirm that they will pass on the Commerce Commission’s price cut, Vodafone and the other retailer service providers are basically admitting that they will keep all the money for themselves.

That’s the Vodafone that recently announced it had billions of dollars in profit

Regular readers will know there’s one thing I hate more than hypocrites, and that’s liars. Yes, Vodafone, I’m looking at you.

In September, when Hooton launched his campaign against the Government (revealed on this blog days before it was officially announced), Vodafone went to extreme lengths to say it had nothing to do with the campaign.

Tom Chignell, one of Vodafone’s senior executives, even took to this blog to make their position clear:

“Just to be clear Vodafone is not involved in such a campaign.”

But I always knew it was bullshit.

“While Vodafone has pulled out of the campaign, at least in a public sense, I’m told they are still pulling the campaign levers behind the scenes.”

And now finally, the media have actually started asking Vodafone some questions.

Adam Bennett at the NZ Herald got Vodafone to admit that they were actually the main player behind the campaign.

Vodafone on the Coalition for Fair Internet Pricing:

September 13: “We decided a few days ago that (the coalition) probably wasn’t the best thing for Vodafone at this stage.”
Yesterday: Did you give financial support to the coalition?: “Yes we did … I think we’ve been reasonably open about that.”

This is outrageous. Vodafone has lied about its involvement in the campaign. Vodafone has led a campaign to make sure Chorus loses hundreds of millions of dollars and that money goes into the pockets of Vodafone and other corporate bludger retail service providers.

There are some serious questions that need to be asked of Vodafone and everyone involved in the Coalition for Fair Internet Pricing.

Consumer NZ, InternetNZ, the Telecommunication Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ), CallPlus, Slingshot, the Federation of Maori Authorities, Greypower, Hautaki Trust, KiwiBlog, KLR Holdings, National Urban Maori Authorities, New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations, Orcon, Rural Women, Te Huarahi Tika Trust and the Unite Union.

Perhaps our favourite travel blogger David Farrar, who is also deeply embedded in this dishonest the campaign, can give us some answers.

The entire country has been misled so that’s the least we deserve, David.

Perhaps Paul Brislen, if he could just pause from chatting with Labour MPs and other left-wingers on Twitter for just a moment, might like to explain the political lobbying his supposedly neutral organisation is doing.

I have more to reveal. Watch this space.