*NCC’s collaboration with the CPC had been restricted to a specific subject such as monitoring of sales promotion
IT NEWS NIGERIA:
Consumer Protection Council, (CPC), has said there is need to deepen collaboration with Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to further protect the interests of the telecoms consumers.
Director Surveillance & Enforcement at CPC, Mrs. Oluwaleke Ogundipe said this in a paper presentation at the Fourth Quarter/Open Forum of the Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF) 2017 organized by NCC with the theme Telecom Dispute Resolution And Redress Mechanism.
She noted that NCC’s collaboration with the CPC had been restricted to a specific subject like monitoring of sales promotion, adding that there is need to widen the scope.
“There have been recent moves to expand the scope to include a streamlined redress process. There are still some hitches which we hope will be resolved sooner than later.”
According to her, “a simple redress process that involves both agencies can only enhance consumer confidence in the sector. Definitely, collaboration is the key to ensuring that businesses thrive, while the consumers’ interests are taken care of adequately.
She explained that the objectives of both CPC and NCC are both similar and dissimilar. “The growth of the telecom sector is the main focus of the NCC which also serves a purpose of providing choice to consumers, a major consumer right. The objective of the CPC is to ensure that the consumer receives value for money. With CPC, the consumer is king and could never be collateral damage in the process of growing the sector.”
The convergence of both agencies is or should be, the satisfaction of the consumer, as without them, no sector can grow, she said.
Furthermore, Mrs. Ogundipe said the CPC Act provides for the Council to decide a case on its merits; and give orders considered appropriate to redress complaints. This is done after representation by both parties and based on clear facts, technical expertise and the appropriate law.
“The laws or regulations relied upon by the Council could be that of the sector regulator. The CPC Act provides that contravention of any laws for the protection of consumers, is also an offence under the CPC Act. Failure to comply with a Council Order is an offence under the Act punishable with fines and imprisonment.”
ICAF Council, she said, has developed a strategy to engage with sector regulators and improve on collaboration. Council has reached out to sector regulators to extend the borders of collaboration beyond mundane issues.
“It is recognized that one of the problems that consumers have is that they sometimes do not know where to go to when there is a problem. Some consumers simply go everywhere possible, in which case, you will find complaints made to the service provider, CPC, NCC and even to higher authorities! This clogs the system.”
ICAF Council, she said, has reached out to sector regulators to streamline individual redress processes in such a manner that leads to information sharing and an easier seamless process for consumer redress, irrespective of which channel has been used for laying the complaints. There has been some level of success in this out-reach but some regulators seem to regard collaboration as a reduction in their sovereignty and authority.
Finally, she added that apart from providing redress to aggrieved consumers, the best redress comes from the consumers’ understanding of their rights. An informed consumer will know his rights, demand them and probably receive redress without recourse to regulatory agencies. Continuous sensitization of consumers is thus a necessity in the complaint redress process, Ogundipe added