The information provided by the companies must include full contract details such as exclusions, limitations and duration of any fixed commitment period.
“Where information about the service is provided using text, an option to request additional information must be included in the text because we recognise that the text is limited in terms of the number of characters,” said Public Education Specialist at the OUR, Elizabeth Bennett Marsh, at a JIS Think Tank on Thursday.
“So it must be clear in the text how customers can access additional information. It must also be at no cost to the customer, and as a general rule, the information should include any limitations that may apply in the use of the service,” she noted.
She said that telecommunications providers must also permit existing post-paid customers to opt into a financial cap and to also set spending limits for roaming.
Mrs. Bennett Marsh said, further, that for unbundled services the provision of information shall include a clear description of the service, the standard tariff that is applicable, any applicable taxes, a breakdown of the charges for access and usage and standard contract conditions for any services, including any relevant or fixed commitment period.
The directives are aimed at improving information transparency in the telecommunications market and come against the background of an increasing trend in consumer complaints relating to telecommunications services since 2017.
These include high call charges, non-receipt of notifications when data credit is nearing exhaustion and incidents of rapid credit depletion.
Coming out of these complaints, the OUR conducted a survey and drafted a consultation document, for which feedback was sought, and on July 18, the agency issued a determination notice. Mrs. Bennett Marsh explained that the determination notice identified six directives to be provided to the telecommunication providers, Digicel and Flow, to be implemented in three phases.
Two of the three phases are to be executed during this current calendar year, with the first set of decisions effected October 18. The final phase will take effect December 18, 2021.
Meanwhile, consumers should already be benefiting from the directives already in effect since October 18. These included automatic usage notification alerts through text when usage levels approach 60 per cent, then again at 80 per cent and at 100 per cent.
“At the 100 per cent limit, customers should also get information on how they can renew their plan or add a new plan, as well as a website link on how to go about adding or renewing service at the standard rate,” Mrs. Bennett Marsh said.
Also effective on October 18 was the establishment of financial caps or spending limits for non-roaming customers.
“So all customers wishing to enter into new contracts with telecommunications operators should now be offered an option of setting financial caps or spending limits. New customers can also decide on whether they want to set a spending limit. Some don’t, but they need to now know that they have that option,” she noted.
Persons can access details on the new directives on the OUR’s website, our.org.jm.
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