PTA seeks strict regulations for consumers’ rights
By Muhammad Yasir
KARACHI: Pakistan Telecom-munication Authority (PTA) has sought tight regulations for cellular operators regarding withdrawal of (Limited time offers and) services in order to ensure maximum customers rights of telecom sector.
The authority has decided to amend “Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations, 2009” in consultation with all stakeholders and sought feedback over its proposed addition of clause in regulations.
The regulation stated that the operator(s) shall not withdraw provision of services or any category of services unless they inform the authority and affected consumers at least 90 days prior written notice of such withdrawal, and obtain approval of the authority for it.
Operators may withdraw the provision of services of any limited time offer or bundle packages from consumers, provided that such withdrawal is approved by the PTA, after thirty (30) days of prior notice to consumers.
Provided that in exceptional circumstances, an operator may with prior written approval of the PTA, withdraw the provision of services of any limited time offer or bundle package from consumers. The operator shall notify the affected consumers after approval from the authority.
The notice shall be served to the consumers through personal service, registered courier mail, invoice/ bill and Short Messaging Service (SMS).
The notice served under shall also be placed on the website of the operators and circulated through print media of the area from where services or any category of services is intended by the operator, the proposed regulation stated.
Previously, the regulation stated that operators may withdraw the provision of any service to consumers, provided such withdrawal is approved by the authority and thirty days prior notices is given to consumers.
Subject to prior communication of suspension and disconnection policies to the consumer, an operator may suspend or disconnect rendered services in accordance with their policies.
Operator shall clearly communicate the reasons for suspension/disconnection to the consumer along with the action required on the part of that consumer to avoid such suspension/disconnection.
In the regulation, the PTA directed all telecom operators to ensure that consumers know the exact costs for all services prior to purchase, which should be clearly informed them without any false or misleading information, explicitly disclosing the tariff rates, units of charging, and applicable taxes, etc in their advertisements.
PTA directed telecom operators not to pre-activate any tariff on consumer, optional in nature, without the consent of consumers.
Regarding service interruption, in case of planned network system enhancement, updates or upgrades, the operators shall give the consumer thirty days prior service interruption notice, telecom watchdog directed.
It further asks the operators shall inform consumers the reasons for the interruption and expected time of restoration of services to the consumers by any SMS, Calls and other means in the case of unforeseen technical interruption/faults.
It also asked that operation shall not suspend or disconnect a service to a consumer on account of which the consumer has paid all the dues, even if the consumer has defaulted in the payment to the operators in relation to some other services.
But they may suspend/disconnect all connections for an individual services to a consumers, which are subscriber by that consumer in his/her own name and the default is not cleared for any one of such connections.
The operator shall not deny access to emergency numbers to consumers–where the service is suspended for any valid reason.
PTA instructed the operator shall restore services to a consumer within twenty-four hours from when the consumer has taken all remedial steps, to the satisfaction of the operator, in order to rectify the matter resulting in such suspension or disconnection by the operators.
Source: Daily Times