Mobile phone users in Malaysia are becoming more vocal in lodging their complaints on overcharged roaming fees, as shown by the latest data tabulated by the Communications and Multimedia Consumer Forum of Malaysia (CFM).
The complaints received by CFM nearly doubled in 2012 at over 1,100 cases compared with the 498 reports received the year before.
People using telecommunication services were also unhappy with the providers' poor service. CFM told Yahoo! Malaysia in an email response that the organisation recorded more than 1,000 complaints in this category last year, up from the 381 cases in 2011. These cases recorded also included dropped calls.
CFM points out that service providers must adequately address consumer complaints as stipulated in the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. Any company that contravenes this clause commits an offence and is liable to a fine of RM20,000 or six-month jail term, or both.
The organisation reiterates the importance of the consumer's right to receive satisfactory services from their service providers.
It shares the process of how the organisation handles a complaint. First, before CFM gets involved in the complaint, the service provider must be given the opportunity to sort out the dispute. “We can only consider a complaint after the service provider has had a chance to resolve it”. Service Providers have seven working days to do this.
Secondly, the CFM starts getting involved provided the complaint process has met certain conditions. One example is if the company had offered an unsuitable resolution or made its final position, or mad it clear that it would not consider the user's complaint. Consumers are advised to seek CFM's help as soon as possible once the company states it would not be investigating the complaint.
CFM's role is to mediate complaints from consumers about service providers which offer communications services to the public. This includes mobile, internet, television and radio companies.
“We are independent, meaning that we do not take sides and we make our decisions based on the facts. It is the consumers’ right to make a complaint and there is no charge. We provide (the consumer) you with an alternative solution out of the expensive courts systems. If, when we have looked at your complaint, and you are not happy with our decision, you retain your right to ask the courts to consider the complaint.
Consumer education is just as important as the support given by CFM or service providers.
“Consumers should understand the packages they intend to subscribe to; such as the different charges for different types of services. For instance, understand the differences between mobile data roaming charges and call roaming fees,” the organisation said.
CFM also advised users to compare roaming rates of service providers, which were usually provided by these companies as a pocketbook reference, listing the roaming partners they work with.
“Consumers should also learn how to turn off roaming settings for call roaming and data roaming separately and learn what settings incur costs on the device they use,” it added.
To help customers understand how technology works and help them become more savvy with telecommunication packages, CFM works with service providers themselves and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on awareness campaigns.
The organisation has collaborated on seminars, exhibitions, campaigns and used social media and its consumer info portal to promote tools that help telecommunication users.