ICT regulator the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has released draft consumer protection guidelines for public comments and review.
The draft is based on the Kenya Information and Communications Act, 1998 and the Kenya Information and Communications (Consumer Protection) Regulations, 2010 that were developed to protect users and consumers of communication services in regard to quality and variety, and providing guidance to service providers in regard to certain elements on their service delivery process.
According to the regulator, the guidelines have been drafted to meet the following aims:
- clarify on how the Authority expects licensed service providers to respect and protect consumers’ rights;
- encourage best practice by licensed service providers and promote the provision of high-quality services to consumers;
- ensure that all licensed service providers are treated fairly and in a non-discriminatory manner;
- inform on consumers’ expectations regarding quality of service, fairness in tariffs and transparency in billing;
- provide consumers with the opportunity to resolve disputes with their service providers in an effective and efficient manner;
- increase awareness of consumers’ rights and discourage licensed service providers from abusing these rights;
- clarify any ambiguity which may exist in the provisions in the Regulations for the time being in force; and
- protect customers from abrupt changes to or termination of communication services without an opportunity to arrange for provision of the same/similar services with another provider.
Customer care directives
The draft recommends the establishment and running of customer care systems that adhere to a given set of standards.
To begin with, the draft tasks operators to avail their services 99.9% of the time.
Operators are also asked to answer customer care calls within 15 seconds or less after making the call. The time covers hold time (as a call awaits pickup from an agent).
Telcos are directed to complete customer queries within a day, and customer complaints should be fixed within 14 days.
Marketing and advertisement communication
Unsolicited marketing messages are notoriously sent by operators, bulk SMS operators and other licensees.
According to the draft, advertising messages must be sent between 7 AM and 7 PM.
All National Facility providers have also been asked to set up “Do Not SMS, Do Not Call Register, Do Not Spam and Do Not Disturb” systems.
The guidelines add that:
- Ensure that all its subscribers can register their numbers in the “Do Not SMS, Do Not Call Register, Do Not Spam and Do Not Disturb” registers;
- Desist from delivering any spam or telemarketing calls from itself or other providers to any number in the register and
- Put in place a mechanism and procedures by which means Content Service Providers identified by its customers can be prevented from spamming the customers that object to receiving calls or SMS from those providers.
Bundled communication services
The last key directive in the draft asks licensees that offer bundled services to make sure that:
- Clearly specify key terms in user agreements (long-term discounts, bundled discounts, termination fees and so on);
- Stipulate the details of the tariffs and their associated discounts on the bill so that consumers can see where the discounts have been applied;
- Provide information about bundled services including pricing, discounts, cooling off periods, calculation formula for termination fees, and so on;
- Not charge termination fees or terminate bundle for the remaining component services if a consumer wishes to terminate some of the services in the bundle and
- Provide details in the user agreement of organization(s) responsible for the provision of services (in the event that a third party is involved) to facilitate determination of point of error in the event that a specific service in the bundle is not functioning as required.
The document is extensive. It is live at the CA website. Comments should be done on the document and emailed/addressed to The Authority.