Q: I get extremely patchy internet coverage. Whenever they tell me it's fixed, it's only a matter of time before it drops out again. Can I refuse to pay my bill? - Jo, Auckland
A: Paul Doocey, an adviser at Consumer NZ, says this is a valid question. "At some point, you're not getting a service you're paying for."
If you can prove you're not getting reliable internet because the provider isn't carrying out its business with reasonable care and skill then you may have a case to ask for a refund of what you've paid, under the Consumer Guarantees Act. But most broadband contracts imply that connection is not 100 per cent and proving that drop-outs are your provider's fault can be hard.
Doocey recommends raising it with the company before taking strike action on bills. Continuous non-payment is likely to result in your connection being cut off and your bills referred to a debt collector. But compromise may be available.
"If people make enough of a fuss, they can often get credits on their accounts."
A spokesman for the Telecommunication Disputes Resolution Scheme recommends that you make a formal complaint and seek a refund of the amounts paid when you weren't getting any service. If you have no luck, you can then take the complaint to TDR.