Here below are some of the basic consumer rights and obligations of consumers of communication services.
1. Consumers' Rights
It is a fundamental human right for a consumer to have access to basic communications services at reasonable prices. Government and subsequently UCC have a responsibility to ensure that services are made available to all persons by adopting the right policies and that licenses issued ensure necessary roll out of services to all underserved areas and populations.
A consumer has a right to full pre-contractual information that is clear (understandable), helpful. Adequate and accurate on the services and choices offered by a service provide / operator to facilitate making an informed choice.
Such information should include a. specification of what is and is not included in the price quoted as well as a clear statement on the quality of service to be provided.
UCC has made it a requirement on all service providers/operators that these conditions of contract be contained in a service level agreement that should be presented to each customer before the customer utilizes the service provider's/operator's services.
Consumers have a right to receive information to assist them in use of services.
This is particularly true among telecommunication operators who are required to provide directory assistance to customers.
Consumers have a right to have access to sector governing information.
The information referred to in this case is information on issues such as governing policies and legislation as these affect the end service available to the consumers.
Consumers have a right to have comparative information.
This information is provided to assist them in making choices between different service providers/operators, services and equipment.
c) Quality of Service
Consumers have a right to receive a service with a quality that reflects the cost of the service.
UCC has developed service quality guidelines that are required of each of the respective service providers/operators.
Consumers have a right to receive the level of quality of service that is quoted or stated by the service provider/operator in the service agreement.
It has already been pointed out that the standard of service associated with the quoted prices/charges should be made available to the customer prior to use of services.
A consumer has a right to fair treatment without undue, discrimination from another consumer.
Such discrimination can take the form of denial of access to services or provision of different quality of service to different customers paying the same amount of money.
UCC requires that denial of access to services provided by an operator/service provider should only be due to delinquency of payment of dues or for non compliance with the terms and conditions of the service provider's/operator's service Agreement or for any other just cause.
This fairness right is also extended to consider fair treatment among groups of consumers,
Consumers have a fight to fair terms of service. This looks at the terms and conditions stipulated by the service provider/operator in the service agreements as basis of providing service. These should be fair in expectations as well as requirements.
A consumer has a right to complain about quality, delay, quantity and tariff with regard to the nature of the communication service provided.
A consumer is expected to utilize or consume services knowing on what terms the service is being provided. If these terms are not met, a consumer can complain.
A consumer has a right to an effective system for handling of complaints. Each service provider/operator is required by UCC to set up a mechanism of resolving questions regarding services and conflicts with customers.
If a complaint is not resolved satisfactorily by the service provider/operator, the consumer can advance his/her complaint to UCC.
g) Safety and security
Consumers have a right to be provided services that are safe and secure.
A service provider/operator must ensure that all his/her equipment meets health safety requirements before use by consumers and should regularly be checked to maintain this safety. Any known health risks should be communicated to any intending or existing customer. The use of the facilities or services provided should not leave a consumer at any risk whether health or otherwise unless such risk is a result of malpractice on the part of the consumer.
Every consumer has a right to privacy.
UCC has placed a confidentiality requirement on service providers/operators to ensure al'1d .maintain confidentiality of the content of all communications, whether data or al1yinformation that the service provider/operator may obtain as a result of serving a customer. This cannot be disclosed to any third party without the Commission's written, consel'1t or by order of competent court of law.
i) Consumer Education
Consumers have a right to be educated on services being offered to them.
This education is necessary to provide them with knowledge and skills that enable them to be informed consumers.
j) Notification of Termination of Service
Consumers have the right to a notification of termination of service particularly that of a basic service or Internet access.
UCC requires that the national operator and Public Service providers of services such as Internet access service to provide prior notification to the customers and the general public of an intention to cease providing a service.
Consumers have a right to make representations to those delivering, regulating or governing the communications services on matters pertaining to the services offered to them and other consumer preferences.
It is for this reason that UCC regularly engages in public consultations, inviting comments/input from the public.
l) Billing Information
Consumers have a right to access billing information,
When a consumer is not happy with his/her bills, he/she can following up with the service provider / operator to discuss the details of his/her bill.