Mobile users to get automatic alerts on usage levels
Local mobile phone users are to start receiving automated alerts on their usage levels from telecoms providers Digicel and FLOW.
Additionally, all customers wishing to enter into new contracts with telecoms operators will be offered the option of setting financial caps (spending limits).
These changes are among the decisions made by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) in its Determination Notice titled: "Improving Information Transparency in Telecommunication Markets".
This, following complaints from mobile telecommunications customers about issues such as:
· Unexpectedly high call charges for post-paid subscribers;
· Non-receipt of notification when data credit is nearly exhausted, or has been exhausted;
· Incidents of rapid credit depletion when credit is applied for data use, in the case of prepaid customers; and,
· Exhaustion of data plan credit when ‘mobile data’ is disabled on their devices.
Following the implementation telecoms customers should see automatic notification alerts – free of charge – in an electronic format such as an SMS, or another form of communication when their bills approach a usage level of 60 per cent, then again at 80 per cent and at 100 per cent.
At the 100 per cent limit, this alert should also provide information on how the customer can renew the plan, or add a new plan.
The 100 per cent alert must also give the customer a website link to details on how to go about adding or renewing service at standard rates. Using this link to access additional information on the service should not result in any internet charges to the customer.
However, if the mobile service is purchased as a stand-alone product, that is, not as a bundled plan, then alerts are to be based on the financial cap established by the customer.
For pre-paid mobile customers, the usage notification alerts may be sent in the format preferred by the telecoms utility provider. Such format may include ‘remaining minutes’, data or SMS.
The “Establishment of Financial Caps” which also becomes effective as of October 18, will make it automatic for service providers to offer financial caps for all new post-paid contracts. Under this directive, telecoms providers will need to have new customers decide if they want to set a spending limit.
Note, however, that customers will be unable to set financial caps for roaming services, as the implementation of caps on these services has been delayed.
Telecoms providers must also permit existing post-paid customers to ’opt-in’ to a financial cap. Post-paid customers have the option to choose not to set a spending limit.
OUR’s other decisions on information transparency for telecommunications customers will take effect December 2020 and December 2021.