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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Stop telcos penalising users over bad internet service, groups tell govt


Consumer groups say the issue of contracts with internet service providers has been a bane for customers for far too long.

PETALING JAYA: Contract periods for customers who get bad internet service from telecommunication companies (telcos) should be abolished, say two consumer groups.

Malaysia Consumers Movement (MCM) secretary-general Sukhdave Singh said this issue of contracts with internet service providers has been a bane for customers for far too long.

“We believe that such contracts should be made illegal because they do not protect customers but work in the interest of corporations,” he told FMT.

He said it made no sense for telcos to “brag” about accessibility if they cannot provide good internet service.

Sukhdave said contracts must have exit clauses without penalty if customers can prove that their internet speed is not up to what was promised.

“Currently, customers who are tied to their contracts are at a disadvantage because they cannot opt out without breaching the penalty clause. Complaints more often than not also fall on deaf ears,” he said, adding that this was a complete abuse of consumer rights.

He said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) should be more aware of this issue and work towards helping consumers.

“The MCMC should set up a tribunal to hear complaints on telco issues for dispute resolution,” he said.

Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) president Mohideen Abdul Kader said it is time for the government to step in to make it possible for aggrieved customers over bad internet service.

“The Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 could be amended to say that consumers should not pay any exit fees if a telco is providing bad internet service.

“When a telco contract is signed, it is understood that the company is responsible to provide good service, not just that the customer is obligated to stick with the company. A customer should not be penalised for the telco providing bad service,” he told FMT.

Mohideen said there needs to be flexibility, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, so that customers are not stuck with bad internet service because they cannot afford the penalty to break their contracts.

“Bad internet service can potentially cause them to lose their jobs when they cannot do their work,” he said.

Mohideen also said since customers are locked in contracts, telcos are not incentivised to rectify the problems of their customers, and this had been proven from the multiple complaints filed.

He said whether customers had normal or bad internet service, telcos will still get their monthly payments but if customers decide to terminate their contracts, they had to pay the penalty instead.

“At the end of the day, telcos are still winners in this scenario no matter what the customer chooses to do.

“Customers must have the right to quit without reason. Why must they be tied to a telco?” he asked.

Yesterday, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) central committee member Sharan Raj noted that according to the MCMC, the customer satisfaction index (CSI) for internet service providers had been on a decline since 2012.

The survey highlighted the main grouses about the service providers, such as non-compensation when service is down, poor quality of broadband connection, slow download-upload speed and network coverage.

He said nearly half of fixed broadband subscribers have speeds below 50 megabits per second (Mbps), adding that an upgrade would mean higher payments.

“People will only realise the poor quality of the telecommunication provider after one month, but by then they would be unable to exit their contract with the telco,” he said. - FMT

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