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Janette Toral

Filing an NTC consumer complaint

July 15, 2008 1:20am
Last May 6, 2007, the National Telecommunications Commission issued Memorandum Circular No. 05-06-2007 that further explains the agency's consumer protection guidelines.

This policy was created in response to request for clearer guidelines on consumer complaint handling that extends to services of telecommunication entities, value-added service (VAS) providers, like Internet service connection, mobile phone and Internet-related prepaid services, among others. Consumer rights as stated in the circular include:

Right to privacy. Subscriber information shall not disclosed nor use in any other manner without permission.

Right not be charge. A subscriber can only be charged according to the rates, terms, and conditions he or she has agreed to. A consumer can not be charge for the time being during which a continuing or continuous service was interrupted through no fault of the subscriber.

Right to opt-out. Subscribers are entitled to opt out from a post-paid service within 30-days from start or commencement of the subscription. Add-on bundles are not considered as part of the service and may therefore had to be paid for separately and its amount should be clearly stated in the terms and conditions if required to be paid for.

Remaining balance verification. Prepaid subscribers should be given a free mechanism to verify balance credits.

Accurate and timely billing. Post-paid subscribers should receive clear, accurate, complete, and timely billing.

Burden of proof. In relation to complaints pertaining to post-paid billing errors and loss of prepaid credits, telecommunication and VAS entities has the obligation to prove that the complainant made the transaction within 30 days upon receipt of complaint. During this period, pending the investigation, the consumer shall not be required to pay the disputed charge and any other related charges (penalty, late fees, etc.), and no adverse credit report may be made based on that either.

Consumers are expected to file a complaint first with their service providers and keep records of correspondence and phone calls made.

If the complaint is not addressed within 30 days, the consumer has the right to escalate this to the National Telecommunications Commission by filling up a complaint form.

As this is still a new policy, it will take time before it gets updated and will be highly dependent on actual experience by consumers in going through the process.

I look forward to your insight.