The event is one of the initiatives of the NCC to bring together Network Operators, the Regulator (NCC) and Telecom consumers together in the rural areas, to discuss, proffer solutions to consumer related issues and ensure consumers have value for money through effective service delivery.
The theme of the event: 'Using Information and Education as Tools for Consumer Empowerment and Protection', reflects one of the cardinal objectives of the Commission, which is ‘ensuring consumer empowerment through provision of necessary information and education to consumers’.
While presenting the welcome address, the representative of Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Alhaji Ismail Adedigba, Deputy Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, NCC, said that “the Consumer Town Hall Meeting is to enable a tripartite meeting of the Regulator (NCC), Operators and Consumers with a view to enlighten telecom consumers and resolve pressing consumer issues with respect to provision of telecom services.”
Adedigba acknowledged that the Commission had been inundated with various complaints such as unsolicited text messages, failure to roll-over unused data, automatic data renewal upon expiration and call masking/refilling.
“In response to the major complaints, the NCC, as a consumer-centric institution has taken appropriate steps such as: development of 2442, Do-Not-Disturb Short Code to solve unsolicited texts/calls, issuance of directive to roll-over unused data within a period of 1 to 7 days from date of expiration, issuance of directive to Service Providers to desist from forceful/automatic subscription of data and Value Added Services (VAS) or face sanctions, and development of the 622 Toll-Free line through which consumers can lodge complaints of unresolved service issues”, Adedigba stated.
He emphasized that failure of the operators to comply with the directives attracts appropriate sanctions, and also stated that the commission is in the process of choosing the best, from a list of technology solutions used in other countries, to block devices used for call masking/refilling, track and apprehend the culprits.
Alhaji Ismail Adedigba, who also represented the Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, NCC, Mrs Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, reaffirmed that to ensure the Telecom consumer is well Protected, Informed, and Educated (PIE mandate), the Commission developed series of initiatives such as the Telecom Consumer Parliament event, Consumer Outreach Programme (COP) held in state capitals and Consumer Town Hall Meeting (CTM) held in rural areas. Other initiatives includes dissemination of fact sheets, radio programmed, online interaction and responding to enquiries via NCC call centre on a Toll-Free Number - 622, he stated.
Comrade Jide Abdulazeez, the Consumer Advocacy Group Representative at the CTM, stated that consumers should ensure they attend the CTM whenever it is holding near them in order to gain information that will empower them to know their rights as consumers, and also have opportunity to resolve issues at the complaints desk of the Network Operators usually set up at every CTM.
“I commend the NCC for this initiative that gives consumers opportunity to be informed, educated and empowered”, Abdulazeez said.