By Juliet Umeh
ON July 1st, 2016, the Nigerian Telecommunications Communication, NCC, mandated all telecoms operators to dedicate a common short code which will enable subscribers of their services take informed but independent decisions on what messages to receive from the network.
The direction took cognizance of the broad range of services among which are banking, financial and consumer goods. The commission directed service providers to give the necessary instructions and clarifications that will enable subscribers subscribe to a particular service, services or none at all.
In spite of this directive by the Commission, Nigerians are still at the mercy of network providers with their incessant unsolicited text messages, annoying mobile adverts and unwarranted short code calls.
Recently, the Industry Consumer Advisory Forum, lCAF, met in Lagos to discuss: Progressing from Customer Service to Customer Experience -The Consumer ’3 Point of View.
The meeting convened by the NCC saw some Nigerians expressing disappointment over the continuous call and forced promo harassments by telecom operators.
While lodging his complaints, the President of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Prof. Olukunle Iyanda, pleaded with NCC to do more on public education and information on some of the short codes like 622.
He said: “I never heard about it and I do not think I am not at alert. I read the newspapers and I do a bit of the internet. I believe NCC needs to do more about where I could lodge some of these complaints.
“Our problem in this nation is not lack of information policy or regulation, our problem and challenge is always implementation. The NCC just rolls out policies to the service providers but I wonder how much it monitors compliance,” he said.
NCC, however, said its role in protecting customers still stands but noted that some customers are yet to activate some of these codes like ‘Do not disturb.’
Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, NCC, Mrs. Felicia Onwuegbuchulam said that even though some people still experience unsolicited messages but the frequency of customer complaints against network service providers in 2018 has reduced compared to previous years.
She noted that complaints have reduced on the issue of forced/automatic renewal of data services and activation/subscription to data and Value Added Services without prior consent since May 2018. She explained that the lCAF was established to act in an advisory capacity on the interests, issues and concerns of consumers of ICT products and services with a view to ensuring protection from unfair practices.
Onwuegbuchulam said the bureau’s intervention on a number of consumer- related issues in the past contributed to formidable changes in the consumer’s experience.
“So it’s not surprising that their advice on the unwholesome practices of data termination and forced subscription on VAS supported the Commission’s directions to Service Providers in these areas. This has promoted competition among telecommunication companies.”
She said the event will present a better opportunity for the commission to also listen to what telecoms service providers are doing in trying to perfect excellent customer experience while the service providers gain insightful feedback on their efforts from their customers.
She, however, advised that: “In order to remain relevant, telecoms operators need to invest more in retaining and serving their customers.”