The poor performance of the telecommunication networks in the country has come to the fore again. At the recent 81st telecoms consumers parliament organisation organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Lagos, participants deplored the dismal performance of the telecommunication networks in recent time.
Participants implored telecommunications consumers to demand for compensation from the telecommunications operators over infractions on their rights.
It is sad that some 15 years after the telecommunications networks were licensed and they rolled out their services, Nigerian consumers of their services have been at the receiving end of the poor services rendered by the telecoms networks.
Among such poor performance by the networks are dropped calls, failed calls, network interruption, network congestion, loss of signals during calls, overcharging for calls and charges for unsubscribed services, failed attempts to load recharge payment, inability to change their tariff plan, inability to activate the offered service, inability to send or receive SMS, unsolicited messages without an option to opt out, and call misdirection to an unintended number, among others.
Many aggrieved customers have at different times resorted to media assistance to get redress from the telecoms networks without any positive answer from the telecoms network operators.
Thanks to the recession that swept through the economy in the last 18 months, most consumers became more discerning about the services offered by the telecoms networks and were able to discover their poor services and how they had been cheating their consumers for services not subscribed to.
It was also discovered that even when customers complained to the telecoms companies about their services they hardly made any apologies or tried in any form to improve on the quality of such service.
Indeed, subscribers to the services of the telecoms networks operators are their customers. Therefore, it is the consumers’ right to demand for reasonably high quality of service, seamless connectivity, little or no disruption in service, affordable and value for their money and proactive information on service.
Consequently, where a telecoms company performs poorly, it must give its consumers adequate compensation for the loss they suffered as a result of its poor service.
In the Nigerian business environment certain network problems cannot be ruled out. Among such problems are glitches arising from the vagaries in power supply, vandalism of equipment, network software malfunctions and fraudulent hacking and human errors.
However, when such problems occur, telecoms operators owe it a duty to promptly communicate to their consumers about the occurrence of the problems and what they are doing to restore high quality service.
The fact remains that today, the networks have taken it upon themselves to give their customers unsolicited messages, to unnecessarily charge them for services not rendered and to continue to give them poor quality service.
If anything, 15 years after commencement of operation the telecoms networks should have improved on the quality of their services. They should know that such poor quality services and lack of courtesy for their consumers cannot be business as usual for too long.
In addition, some of the telecoms network operators are foreign investors who invested in this economy and may not have known much about how Nigerians cherish high quality service and detest cheating and lack of respect for customers’ feelings.
But, having operated in this country for about 15 years or so, they ought to have adapted to the Nigerian high value for service and comply.
Going forward, NCC is the last hope of the telecoms services consumers. As such, NCC must put in place stringent rules and guidelines for the various telecoms networks operators in the country and also set out to telecoms consumers the NCC telephone lines to call for complaints whenever the consumers feel aggrieved especially when they are cheated by the telecoms network operators.
Such complaints must also be well investigated and, if found to be true, the telecoms network operator should be made to apologise to the consumer and other necessary compensation made to the consumer.