Telco Consumers: bottom of the food chain?
INQ7’s special report, When Filipino tech consumer complaints fall on deaf ears by Erwin Oliva, covers problems of telco subscribers like Smart WiFi and Bayantel dialup.
He quotes the Pinoy Tech Blog post about Smart WiFi as an example of local bloggers rising to the demand for consumers to get attention.
Another issue which affects the great number of cellular subscribers is broadcast SMS spam which is addressed by the NTC.
Unfortunately, for those who go to the Department of Trade and Industry, they have no jurisdiction over telecoms and Internet problems:
Some of the subscriber complaints on the Smart wi-fi service have reached the Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Trade Regulations and Consumer Protection, according to Dita Maralit, director for special concerns of the DTI.
However, staff at the Bureau of Trade Regulations and Consumer Protection said that consumer concerns related to “Internet services” do not fall under their jurisdiction.
“We have endorsed this with the NTC,” one staff told INQ7.net.
“We usually deal with defective products. In case of services, such as those from Internet companies and telephone companies, it will be better to coordinate with the National Telecommunications Commission—they have jurisdiction over Internet services,” the government staff said.
Dr. Bill Torres, founder of pioneering ISP Mosaic Communications (Mozcom), who has an interesting podcast from PCIJ’s EDSA 20/20, puts it well:
William Torres, president of the Philippine Internet Service Organization and a veteran in the Philippine information technology industry, noted that consumers inherently occupy the bottom of the food chain, in terms of the quality of service they receive from service providers
What would it take for these telcos to pay attention to consumer welfare?
Smart/PLDT says it is doing something about it:
Smart Communications public affairs head, Ramon Isberto, acknowledged that the operator’s new fixed wireless broadband service launched last year was having problems because it was part of the service’s “birth pains.”
“The challenge for us right now is that we have to deal with another level of complexity of this new service. However, as we do this, we also like to address the different cases individually. And we intend to make this process [birth pains] as short as possible,” Isberto said.
But they also have problems with other services, like the PLDT DSL service.
Are they doing enough?