TELECOMS

NIGERIA’S CONSUMER PROTECTION COUNCIL LAMENTS CUSTOMER CARE CHARGES

The Consumer Protection Council CPC has lamented the charges imposed by Telecommunications Operators on Customer Care Lines.

The CPC in a submission made to the Nigerian Communications Commission NCC stated that the customer care line should be made toll- free. It added that all care services are an integral part of after sales support service that must be encouraged in a highly unenlightened society as prevalent in Nigeria.

The CPC stated that all problems encountered by subscribers such as System/Network failure which means product failure ranging from inability to make or receive calls, inability to recharge, drop calls, non access to figures on scratch cards, queried deductions etc. cannot be the fault of the consumer hence the consumer should not be charged for calling the Networks concerned to complain about these failures because the consumer is not responsible for the failures.

The CPC stated that "these failures cannot be said to be the consumer's fault, yet he feels the pain, and has basis for complaint since he has no solution to it. Must he again bear the cost of finding solution for an already paid service.In as much as all the mentioned failures are not the consumer's fault, he must not bear the cost of making this complaint and to make for ready access, the customer care line should be tool free. The consumer must not be over inconvenienced, since he might not even have the time and space, to visit the care centre.". According to the CPC, one weapon of competition is rendering convenience of service to the consumer which is highly enhanced by toll-free concept. If 'toll-free' becomes general, dominance factor that hinders competition would be curtailed, it added.

The CPC reiterated that the spirit of customer care relationship gives rise to customer "CARE" line. In the submission, the CPC further gave the definition of care as meaning to like or love, to be able to look after something or somebody well. It added that to Care as an operator entails a producer of a product making things easier to the consumers of the product. This Care according to the CPC includes after sales services, warranty, discounts etc to make things easier for the consumers.

The CPC stressed that it was unacceptable that consumers should be made to pay for Goods and service purchased when it fails to meet the purpose for which they are bought. The global practice is that when a product fails to meet the purpose for which it is bought, for any reason whatsoever, exclusive of mishandling the consumer's complaint arising as a result of the failed product should be heard at no extra cost. The CPC reiterated that "Consumers of telecom in Nigeria have paid so much to the industry in value and in pains to deserve much more than toll free.

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