Following a recent major service outage on Maxis, the Consumer Forum of Malaysia (CFM) has renewed its call for a compensation guideline to protect consumers. This is to ensure that paying customers receive more than just an apology and a token effort at compensation.
According to CFM Chairman Muhammad Radzillah, consumers are becoming increasingly depended on technology to remain connected and any disruption or service outages will have a major impact on the lives of users. He said consumers who are working from home, students who were trying to join online classes, those who urgently need to respond to messages and even those who were trying to make payments at toll plazas, all found themselves in difficulties when a telco is having an interruption. He added many suffered not only an inconvenience but actual losses as well, and they deserved to be compensated.
Typically if a telco faced a service interruption, affected customers were offered free SMS or free data for a couple of hours. Compared to the loss suffered, he said the cost of SMS to customers is negligible while the free data doesn’t make much difference to users on an unlimited data plan.
Although the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has their respective Mandatory Standards on Quality of Service, the CFM wants to push more than just regulatory action but compensation for consumers who have been disadvantaged. The CFM Chairman suggested that in some jurisdictions, it may involve compensation commensurate with the loss to the consumer. He said this could be a starting point for discussions between the relevant stakeholders.
The CFM is confident that with a compensation guideline in place, the number of complaints it receives will be reduced or resolved faster. A framework that offers guidance on suitable and commensurate compensation would be beneficial to all parties involved in complaints management, to provide a clear and consistent basis for resolution.
Last Thursday morning, Maxis customers, mostly in the Klang Valley, were either stuck on EDGE or having “No service” on their phones. The service was restored at around 1:30pm and they communicated their updates via their social media channels. Maxis didn’t elaborate on the cause of the issue and they didn’t offer any form of compensation to its customers.
Occasionally, there are telcos that offer a small token of free data or calls to compensate for the inconvenience caused. However, some providers such as Telekom Malaysia have taken their own initiative by offering a 24-hour service guarantee for Unifi. If TM is unable to restore a connection within 24 hours from the time of issuing a service ticket, the affected customer will receive a RM50 rebate for their bill.
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