The National Communications Commission (NCC) (telecom regulatory agency) has cautioned operators of telecom services not to indulge themselves any more in unsolicited text messages which are unnecessarily sent at regular intervals by telecom operators to consumers so as not to attract sanctions from the commission.
Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Mrs Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, gave the warning while interacting with journalists at the 39th edition of town hall meeting, which ended at the weekend in Akpabuyo Local Government Area
of Cross River State, saying that the era where telecom operators exploit consumers of their services, should be seen as being over.
The NCC director warned that the commission would stop at nothing to ensure that consumers get services that are commensurate to the money they spend on the services.
Onwuegbuchulam, who spoke on the theme; “Using Information and Education as a Tool for
Consumer Empowerment and Protection,” stressed that NCC decided to organise the town hall/ stakeholders’ forum to enable consumers and service providers interface with each other to acclimatise themselves with education on contemporary issues which can generate interest in the industry with a feed back mechanism that will enable the commission make regulatory interventions for the benefit of consumers and service providers.
Onwuegbuchulam, who was being represented by Philip Ereten, stated that, through empowerment and education, the consumers are fortified with necessary tools to be protected from market exploitation and to make rational and informed decisions when making choices of services.
”Consumer information and education is identified by the commission as one of the most cost-effective mechanisms that guarantee consumer empowerment and education.
“Besides serving as a proactive way of protecting consumers from making wrong choices, it also serves as a proactive measure that protects consumers from being exploited against fraud”, she said.
The commission’s public affairs director added that to ensure that the telecom consumer is protected, informed and educated (PIE mandate), the commission has developed series of initiatives with
the main goal of empowering consumers with appropriate information and education that will ensure that their rights, privileges and interests are adequately protected stressing that “information is power”.
Speaking earlier also at the ceremony, deputy director, Consume Affairs Bureau, Alhaji Ishmail Adedigba, who gave reasons for the town hall meeting, stated that the program was to enable a tripartite meeting of regulators, operators and consumers with a view to resolving pressing consumers’ issues with respect to provision of telecom services.
“As you are aware, the commission has been inundated with various complaints such as, unsolicited text messages and calls, failure and refusal to roll over unused data at expiration of data bundle by service providers.
“Automatic renewal of data services upon expiration and activation of subscription to data and value added services (VAT) without prior consent of subscribers and many more,” He said.
Ishmail maintained that the commission has developed a 2442 DND short code to solve unsolicited text messages and calls that are creating inconveniences to consumers, adding that issuance of direction to service providers on data roll-over, which now enables consumers to roll over unused data for period of time, ranging from one day to seven days, depending on one’s data plan and stressed that the directives will take effect from June 26 this year.
Other steps taken by the commission to ensure that the consumers are not short-changed by service providers also include the development of 622 Toll-Free Line through which consumers can easily lodge complaints for any unresolved service issue to NCC.
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