YOUR RIGHTS AS A CONSUMER, HOW ZICTA CAN HELP YOU

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 08:54:59 +0000

A FORTNIGHT ago, I was reading about ZICTA and their role in the Zambian ICT sector and thought I should share information that I think would benefit you the users of technology.

I bet most of you don’t know how ZICTA can help you on a personal level. If you don’t know what your rights are, you can’t know if they are being respected, protected and made practical.

It was just last year that ZICTA fined all the three mobile phone operators a total of K3.1 million for failing to adhere to Quality of Service parameters as agreed in the Quality of Service Guidelines. Therefore we should make take advantage of ZICTA for quality service delivery.

ZICTA, the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority came into existence following the enactment of the Information and Communications Technologies Act Number 15 of 2009.

It is mandated to regulate the provision of electronic communication services and also monitor the performance of the ICT sector in terms of levels of investment, cost and quality of service among others things.

Furthermore, ZICTA has the mandate to administer the Postal Services Act and Electronic Communications Transaction Act of 2009.

According to the consumer protection guidelines, ZICTA is mandated to investigate and determine any complaint in line with the provisions of ICT, Postal and ECT Acts.

It is against this background that ZICTA established the 7070 Call Centre to deal with consumer complaints which have either gone unresolved by service providers or consumers feel was inadequately handled.

The Call Centre is available from Monday to Friday, during working hours (08:00 hours to 17:00 hours.)

It is important to note that one can lodge their complaint from any network using the toll free number 7070, at no cost. The ZICTA Call Centre agents are equipped to attend to Postal and Courier Service Providers as well as ICTs user complaints.

The following are some of the issues that users may complain about;

  1. A poor quality of service
  2. High tariffs
  3. A faulty telephone service
  4. A billing inaccuracy
  5. A false and misleading advertising
  6. A loss of airtime
  7. Intrusion of privacy
  8. Delayed delivery of posted item
  9. Refund.

CONSUMER RIGHTS

FULL DISCLOSURE

  • The Right to receive clear, conspicuous, and complete information about rates, terms and conditions for available and proposed products and services from the service provider and to be charged by the service provider only for those services and under the terms and conditions that have been approved or they have agreed to.

CHOICE

  • The Right, when the choice is available, to affirmatively select your Information and Communications Technologies, postal and Courier service provider and products/ services.

The context of making such choices should be free from undue influence, prejudice, exploitation or any other motive by the service provider that might compromise the integrity of choice.

PRIVACY

  • As a consumer, you have the right to lawful personal privacy and to be protected against unauthorised access to or use of content of your personal conversation or information.

A Service Provider shall not monitor, disclose or allow any person to monitor or disclose the content of any information of any subscriber transmitted through the Service Providers’ systems by listening, tapping, storage, or other kinds of interception or surveillance of communications and related data unless as provided by law.

  • The Service Provider shall take reasonable endeavours to prevent information about its consumers from being disclosed to third parties or from being used otherwise than for the purpose of providing ICT, postal and courier services, except with the consumer’s prior consent or except where it is required to do so by law.

HIGH QUALITY, RELIABLE SERVICE

  • The right to high quality, reliable service as set out in the Quality of Service guidelines by ZICTA. Consumers should receive services that are reflective of the concept of value for money. Consumers should be proactive and report any cases of poor quality of service to the Authority as stipulated in the Quality of Service guidelines.

TIMELY, ACCURATE BILLS AND REDRESS

  • The Right to accurate and understandable bills for products and services and to fair and prompt redress for problems they may have with the bills or that may arise during use of those products or services.

A Service provider shall install a billing system that permits, upon request by a consumer, issuance of bills that identify the rates charged to the subscriber, the number called, the duration of each call, the charge per call, applicable discounts and the class of service and any other information as may be stipulated by the Authority. A Service Provider shall process and issue bills within 30 days of the closure of each billing period.

EMERGENCY SERVICES

  • The Right to access 24 hour free localised emergency services without interruption unless otherwise with due notification to the consumers.

COMPLAINTS

HANDLING

  • The Right to complain and the right to an effective complaints handling system. A consumer is expected to utilise or consume services knowing under what terms the service is being provided. If these terms are not met, a consumer is expected to utilize or consume services knowing under what terms the service is being provided. If these terms are not met, a consumer can complain.

ANTI COMPETITIVE BEHAVIOUR

  • The Right to be protected from anti-competitive behaviour such as unfair trade practices, including false and misleading advertising.

SAFETY

  • The Right to be provided goods and services that are safe and secure. A service provider shall take appropriate technical and organisational measures to safeguard the security of its services.
  • Service Providers must take reasonable measures to ensure that their networks/ services are not exploited by Persons sending unsolicited messages.

NON DISCRIMINATION

  • The Right to equal and non-discriminatory terms of service. 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 provided only due to delinquency of payment of dues or for non -compliance with the terms and conditions of the service provider Service Level Agreement or for any other just cause. The right to non-discrimination is also extended to consider for treatment among groups of consumers.
  • Consumers have a right to fair terms of service. This looks at the terms and conditions stipulated by the Service Provider in the Service Level Agreement as a basis for providing service. These should be fair in expectations as well as requirements.
  • The service level agreements should not be in favour of the service provider but rather should consider fairness on the part of the consumer.

CONSUMER ADVOCACY

The Right to seek support from local or national consumer advocacy groups for grievances that are not being adequately resolved by their service providers. This shall not be limited to grievances but also to any information that may be relevant to them and in the power of advocates to provide or assist in their provision. It is for this reason that ZICTA regularly engages in public consultations, inviting comments and inputs from the public which result in formulation of regulations and guidelines that meet their aspirations. ZICTA has an open door policy with consumer advocacy groups.

DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND REDRESS

The Right to be provided with meaningful access to fair and timely alternative dispute resolution and redress without undue cost or burden.

COMPENSATION

The Right to claim for compensation in the event of the breach of the service contract by the service provider. With regards to postal and courier services, a consumer may even be compensated for the loss or damage of goods being conveyed by a service provider in cases of negligence and failure to provide safe secure storage and transportation facilities.

Complaints may also be made to ZICTA through other avenues such as:

Submitting an online complaint form electronically from the ZICTA website www.zicta.zm

Sending an email to complaints@zicta.zm

Posting to Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority PO Box 36871, LUSAKA

Delivering the complaint to ZICTA offices at Stand No 4909, Corner of Independence Avenue and United Nations Road, Longacres, LUSAKA. Consumers are encouraged to exercise their rights and seek redress whenever they feel their rights are being infringed.

For comments and contributions or if you have a question or topic you would like us to cover in this column, email me on slickmedia6@gmail.com. Text or WhatsApp +260977258265.

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