As part of the Nigerian Communication Commission’s continuous efforts to empower telecom consumers with adequate information and education through constant engagement of consumers at various levels,the 39th Edition of Consumer Town Hall Meeting (CTM) was held on the 21st of June 2018 at Akpabuyo, Cross River state.
The NCC’s Deputy Director Consumer Affairs Bureau, Alhaji Ismail Adedigba during his welcome address declared that the Commission believes the Consumer is ‘King’ and as such must be accorded basic rights. These include the right to be heard, right to be educated, right to choose, right to redress as well as right to safety.
He said “the programme is to enable a tripartite meeting of the Regulators, Operators and Consumers with a view to resolving pressing consumers issues with respect to provision of telecom services”.
The Commission has been inundated with various complaints such as, Unsolicited text messages/calls, failure/refusal to roll over unused data at the expiration of data bundle by service providers, automatic renewal of data services upon expiration and activation/subscription to data and value added services (VAS) without prior consent of the subscribers.
In response to these complaints, Adedigba stated that the Commission being Consumer-centric institution, has taken appropriate steps such as, Development of 2442 DND Short Code to solve unsolicited text messages/calls; Issuance of Direction to Service Providers on Data rollover which now enables consumers to roll over unused data for 1- 7 days depending on your data plan. This takes effect from 26th of June, 2018; Issuance of Direction to Service Providers on forceful subscription of data and Value Added Services which directs Service Providers to desist from forceful/automatic renewal of data services without prior consent of subscribers. This has taken effect from 21st of May, 2018; the Commission also developed 622 Toll-Free Line through which you can easily lodge complaints for any unresolved service issues to the NCC.
The NCC’s Director Consumer Affairs Bureau, Mrs Felicia Onwuegbuchulam represented by Philip Eretan, a Deputy Director in the Department in his opening remarks declared that the CTM is one of the initiatives of NCC to bring together Telecom Consumers in the rural areas with the Network operators and the Regulator (NCC) to discuss, proffer solutions to consumer-related issues and ensure consumers have value for money through effective service delivery.
He said the theme, “Using Information And Education As Tools For Consumers Empowerment And Protection” has been carefully chosen to reflect one of the cardinal objectives of the Nigerian Communication Commission of ensuring consumer empowerment through provision of necessary information and education to consumers.
As consumer information and education is identified by the Commission as one of the most cost-effective mechanisms that provides and guarantees consumer empowerment and education. Besides serving as a proactive way of protecting consumers from making wrong choices, it also serves as a preventive measure that protects consumers from being exploited and against fraud.
Hence, it is the responsibility of the Service Providers to, Communicate information to consumers in a plain and simple language; Ensure that information provided to consumers is relevant, current, accurate and timely; Ensure consumers have access to information that can assist them in making informed choice; Give Consumers the choice of receiving information in a language they can understand.
The programme was concluded with an interactive session between telecom consumers and service providers which participants found informative and educative.
A Complaints Desk was also set up at the event, with representatives of service providers present for prompt resolution of telecom related issues.