via New telecoms law to protect consumers | The Herald December 15, 2015
The new telecommunication service consumer protection law will require operators to have contracts with customers before providing the services. According to Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe the agreement contract will stipulate services, prices and remedies in case of non-service provision, as per the service level agreement.
Consumers will have right to choice, disclosure, access to high quality service, accurate bills, privacy, protection against market abuse, responsive regulatory authority, consumer education and awareness, safety, complain and redress and to end or change a contract among others.
On their part, consumers will have responsibility including critical awareness on service provision, concern and sensitivity to impact of their actions on other citizens and involvement and action to get fair deals.
Consumers will also have the responsibility to organise together, as consumers through the formation of consumer/citizen groups in order to develop the strength and influence to promote and protect their interests.
“All licensed operators must file their standard customer service agreements containing the terms and conditions with the authority for approval within six months from the date of coming in to effect of these regulations or date of licensing,” POTRAZ consumer protection draft says.
All licensed operators shall ensure that their terms and conditions are fair, transparent and written in plain, clear and straight forward language.
Vernacular languages shall also be used as well as braille to cater for the blind. POTRAZ is collecting public input into the process for a consumer protection law, a process that will run up to the end of this month.
A standard customer service agreement for a specific postal or telecoms service should include terms that explain adequately to the consumer.
The consumer protection draft said this should include availability and limitation on the use of service, volume, area of usage, calculation of charges and fees, billing, charges for different services and method of payment.
The process for suspending or disconnecting the service by the licensed operator.
Further, the service agreement should explain the process for effecting termination by the consumer; policy relating to protection of personal information and Warranties in respect of the service and associated equipment.
It should also contain “The contact details for the licenced operator’s customer service department; and the consumer’s right to appeal to POTRAZ and the contact details for the Regulator . . . spell out necessary redress mechanisms in the event of failure to provide the service promised and the consumer complaint and dispute resolution procedures.”
Standard consumer contracts may be amended by the licensee with the approval of the POTRAZ. Where the authority fails to respond in writing to a written request for the amendment of a consumer contract within thirty days, the amendment shall be deemed to have been approved.
About time too. I always feel that I am being fleeced by mobile operators. My bundles vanish even when I have specifically subscribed for Whatsapp and all Apps have background internet access turned off. Do these guys not rob me of my reserve with the confidence that they have already pocketed my Whatsapp subscription? Do all service providers give call durations so we can match against airtime depletion on our own? The bundles one gets per dollar do not seem to go the proportionate distance across networks for similar operations. Is there any way of confirming that bundle depletion matches megabytes transported? Operators don’t process any raw materials. What are the largest costs of a mobile operator among capital charges, bandwidth and labour that make Zimbabwean service so much more expensive than other countries?