The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has ordered MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, provider of Digital Satellite Broadcast Television (DStv) service to compensate and provide toll-free lines to its subscribers.
The information is contained in a statement issued by the CPC Deputy Director of Public Relations, Mr Abiodun Obimuyiwa, on Sunday in Abuja.
He said the order was passed after an extensive investigation on alleged violation of consumers’ rights.
He stated that the CPC had ordered the provider to suspend its service when consumers were away; release free-to-air channels even when subscription had expired and compensate consumers for lost viewing time.
According to the statement, the council also ordered the introduction of local toll-free lines and reasonable equitable spread of popular sports channels, among others.
It stated that the company was required to present written assurances in line with Section 10 of the Council’s enabling law that it would not engage in any conduct detrimental to the interest of consumers.
It added that in the same vein, the company shall for 18 months from the date of the orders, subject its processes to the Council’s inspection to ensure compliance with the directives contained in the orders.
The statement noted that the Council observed that the company’s billing system, whereby “billing is not contemporaneous with the provision of service” was not in the best interest of consumers.
It, therefore, ordered MultiChoice to install a billing system that would ensure that billing starts with the provision of service.
It also ordered the company to, within 90 days, provide across board compensation to subscribers, considering the fact that many of them have over time lost legitimate and paid viewing time by its conduct.
Such compensation, it added, include not restoring service contemporaneously after payment as well as other instances of disruptions.
Similarly, the CPC directed the company to, within 180 days, adopt a technology that supports suspension of service when subscribers are unable to enjoy their service on account of being away for a limited period of time.
It explained that such request for suspension of service could be done between seven to 14 days and not more than twice in a year with a 72-hour notice to MultiChoice.
On non-availability of popular channels in certain bouquets, the CPC ordered the firm to, within 90 days, ensure reasonably equitable spread of popular sports and other channels.
MultiChoice should also keep local and free-to-air channels open so that subscribers would have the opportunity of watching these channels, even when their subscriptions had expired, it ordered.
Also, the satellite viewing channel should maintain local toll-free telephone access lines for its call centres, but should ensure the call centres operate for longer hours during public holidays and weekends in order to aid easy and fast access by subscribers who wish to make complaints or enquiries.
It said the company should also develop a Customer Care Manual which should contain mechanisms to address customer complaints in an accurate, friendly, timely, efficient, courteous and honest manner and further details be made available on the company’s website and other information channels.
In addition, the pay-media company was to not only ensure that accredited dealers and installers carry certified means of identification but educate subscribers periodically on the means of identification.
The statement then quoted the Council’s Director-General, Mrs Dupe Atoki, as expressing optimism that compliance with these reforms would bring about a new dawn for Nigerian consumers.
Atoki said it would henceforth allow consumers to enjoy value for money in their engagement with the company.
She reiterated the Council’s commitment toward sanitising the nation’s market-place for the benefit of consumers.
She, however, said nothing would be left to chance to ensure that it was no longer business as usual and shoddy service delivery would become a thing of the past.