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Published on March 13th, 2008 | by Babar Bhatti


Telecom Consumer Protection: Now Is The Opportunity To Make A Difference

Concerned citizens and consumer protection groups have been writing and talking about the myriad  of issues and the lack of a legal framework for protecting telecom consumers in Pakistan. I have written many posts on this topic: see this (also at Pakistaniat) and another one here. The numerous complaints I see at the comments section of this post on Wateen are also an indication of the magnitude of the problem.

I was glad to see that Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has paid attention to the consumer’s voice. PTA has issued a draft of Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations and has asked the public to provide comments and feedback. The draft (pdf) is available here as well.

The sucess of such a regulatory move is dependenet on a few basic things. First, does the regulation address the basic issues? Second, is it enforceable and if so, is it tough enough tha telecom companies will change their behavior?

I’ll write a follow-up post on this topic. Let’s take the time to go through the brief document and discuss its contents. This window of opportunity is available till April 4th.

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5 Responses to Telecom Consumer Protection: Now Is The Opportunity To Make A Difference

  1. says:

    Exactly my point to keep aside invalid complaints. The reading rate of a country matters here…”1% Fake and 99% Pure Juice” mark will make sales soar for a brand in US and put that same in Pakistan the tag won’t be understood by many hence would lead to create a brand image which is selling Fake juice though it is trying to convey that look we’re 99% absolutely pure and we’re honest about it. You get to listen to weird complaints and most of them relate to being uneducated. Not to rule out that sometimes marketing takes advantage of those uneducated segments, so both things are there.

  2. Babar Bhatti says:

    It is always important to filter out the invalid complaints. The idea is to spot trends where majority of the public is complaining about a valid issue. Thats where PTA can make a difference. My personal experience is that telecom is a complicated industry for both the consumers and the telecom companies and thats why it gets so many complaints. Look at any telecom regulator – FCC, Oxfam, Trai – all of them face similar problems.

  3. says:

    I went through the document and inside Part II Section (6) sub section (2) clause (c) para (ii) states — false statement and misrepresentation includes: ” that an operator will provide licensed telecommunication services “free” or “without charges” or similar words without clearly and conspicuously disclosing the condition, terms, or prerequisite required to be fulfilled by the consumer in order to avail such licensed telecommunication services.”

    I’m just looking at it from all corners and a case like this can be rare but sometimes when marketing you need to run teaser campaign and you might not be able to zing out all such information in one go and on the same day ad and information may come in the subsequent episodes for example on day 1 you advertise “Used a Cellular Service that comes Free?” and the next day you can have “Free of Noise, Free of Network Congestion, Free of Call Dropping, Free of long ques at customer support” and so on. This is creativity and not misrepresentation and at time its important to create “creative tension” to lead consumer towards curiosity which in return makes them explore the service. I believe there would always be 10-20% chunk of consumers who will complain on everything whether its the hidden charges on telecom, on washing powder even complain the way tea gets made at home and pressure burst opening of a cola-can ruining your shirt and pant …and 70-80% of the consumers will adjust to circumstances understanding it as a marketing move, you need to buy a new washing machine only washing powder is not capable of doing all, there’s a difference between homemade tea and the tea consumed at the office, and burst opening of a cola-can ruining your clothes…well yea I guess that one is irritating.


  4. Interconnect says:

    Jon Cariker is right. Millions of web sites claim, they never promise/deliver every day. Millions have been fleeced with prizes for lottery prizes winning, with their email address on yahoo, or Hotmail etc. Asking to provide your contact details, and later ask to pay $100 etc., for the reward of millions of Euros etc.

    I was carried away, and learned lessons of my life, which I would want to share on this. As the internet is without any boundaries, and we should approach our regulators in the territory we fall. They have membership of ITU, and participate at the regulatory forums, on such issues.

    If your state regulator does not help or cooperate I think the next would be to at the Regulatory forum.

  5. John R Cariker says:

    I received an email pop up on March 12 stating that I had won a $500 gift card to Wal-Mart, click here. I thought it was from the Web site I was on but it took me to another website. [] This next screen asked for my personal information so that they can FEDEX the gift card. After providing the personal information, I then find out on the next screen that I would have to buy a bunch of stuff to qualify for the “free” gift card even though I was told I had already won. Therefore this is all a lie. I immediately oped out once I discovered it was a scam. gave my email address and phone number to solicitors. Now I get garbage emails and phone calls (I’m on the National Do Not call list) which I reported. There have refused to honor the promise but has sold my information to others. I was a class-action lawsuit filed against them.

    Thank you.

    John Cariker

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