A new consumer protection policy designed to help Qatar residents who use telecom services in Qatar is currently being circulated to the public for feedback.
Among the key provisions of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Policy are the sharing of complaint statistics with consumers; the establishment of clearer billing guidelines; and that accommodations be made for people with disabilities.
The policy has been produced by the new Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (formerly the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology, or ictQatar).
Complaints about the quality and affordability of internet and phone services in Qatar, where prices for both are among the highest in the Gulf, are commonplace.
In 2011, for example, residents dissatisfied with customer service at Qtel (now Ooredoo) called for a boycott of the company. The country’s largest telecom provider responded by unveiling an easy online bill payment and a more user-friendly website.
‘Effective remedies’ available
Going forward, Neetha Gajather, a section manager in ictQatar’s consumer affairs department, told Doha News one of the goals of the policy is to make sure consumers know that they have avenues for recourse.
“The objectives of the draft policy aim to ensure that customers can make informed purchasing decisions with confidence… that they are protected from misleading or deceptive conduct; that they have an effective remedy if something goes wrong.”
Here are some of the changes that the policy calls for:
- The establishment of a comprehensive telephone directory service for customer use;
- A compilation of “statistics of interest to consumers, including complaint volumes against service providers,” to be available to the public;
- Explicit rules regarding transparency of service policies, to be clearly stated in all documents and advertisements;
- Obligations for service providers to follow “minimum contractual terms” such as advanced notification if service is terminated and safeguards against automatic renewal of contracts;
- Billing guidelines to make sure customers are clear about amount due and services provided/paid for;
- Accommodations for customers with disabilities; and
- The formation of a dispute resolution service monitored by the ministry to handle situations that cannot be resolved between the service provider and customer.
Read the full policy, which is expected to be implemented in December, below:
Feedback can be sent via email before Nov. 7 to: CGAconsult@ict.gov.qa