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Unhappy with your telco? Body aims to be one-stop resolution centre before calling in the big guns
Published on: Friday, February 16, 2024
By: Malay Mail
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Unhappy with your telco? Body aims to be one-stop resolution centre before calling in the big guns
Communications & Multimedia Consumer Forum of Malaysia chairman Megat Ishak Maamunor Rashid speaks during an interview in Cyberjaya on February 14, 2024. (Malay Mail pic)
Kuala Lumpur: The Communications & Multimedia Consumer Forum of Malaysia (CFM) has urged more consumers dissatisfied with the service of their telecommunications providers to first reach out to it, saying it has a proven track record in helping find a happy medium between customers and the industry.

Now in its 23rd year, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s (MCMC) advocacy arm is also calling on members of the public to join the forum as associate members and help keep the telecommunications service industry in check and improve consumer protection.

“In 2000, MCMC started developing all these forums. Among the first ones was the CFM.

“We spent the greater part of 2000 to set it up and by 2001, CFM was finally launched. So, the whole idea of CFM is to basically protect the rights and interests of the consumers of the industry. Which means all the service providers who have licences with MCMC are subject to ensuring the protection of their consumers at all times.

“In fact, if you look at the 10 national policy objectives of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998, consumer protection is there. So, it is not just something that was simply drawn up, but a crucial aspect for communications technology in Malaysia,” CFM chairman Megat Ishak Maamunor Rashid told Malay Mail in a recent interview.

CFM is tasked with, among others, the preparation of consumer codes that would be used as base guidelines for the provisioning of services by the communications and multimedia service providers.

The forum aims to empower consumers through awareness, foster positive relationships between providers and consumers, create an environment conducive to building consumer confidence in service delivery, and encourage mutual respect between providers and consumers in developing guidelines and ethical standards.

“In fact, we were so advanced, we were ahead of American regulations. In fact, India wanted to follow us. South Africa is the closest country in the world that has something similar to us but not exactly like us,” added Megat, who is also the head of corporate affairs at redONE Network Sdn Bhd.

CFM is a dynamic collective composed of members from both the service providers (supply side) and those from consumer associations, special interest groups, NGOs, and academics (demand side), who keep a keen watch on the communications and multimedia industry, or are experts in the subject matter. According to Megat, CFM would benefit from additional representation from the demand side to solidify its position as the primary authority for resolving telecom service issues.

Aside from Megat, other council members from the service side for the 2023-2025 term include the Melaka Consumer Welfare Association (PKPM) (deputy chairman), Telekom Malaysia (secretary), the Malaysian Consumer and Family Economics Association (MACFEA), Consumers Front of Sabah, Maxis, Digi, Malaysia Cyber Consumer Association (MCCA), Advertising Standards Malaysia, Umobile, and Astro.

Despite the corporate composition, Megat gave his assurance that all disputes are handled transparently by an independent secretariat that oversees and mediates such matters impartially, even when these involve the companies which are council members.

“The council members are not involved in the mediation. They do not have a say there. It is neutral all the time and it is all done professionally. You must remember that when the council members are appointed, they know they have to become impartial. If the complaint comes about their particular company, then they would have to assist to make sure the complainant is given a fair deal,” Megat added.

The top five categories of complaints as at December 31, 2023 were over bills and charges (6,067 complaints), service delivery (2,975 complaints), unfair practices (1,656 complaints), misrepresentation of service (1,453 complaints), and mobile number portability (925 complaints).

CFM organised 14 face-to-face mediations, overseeing the resolution of 2,075 cases through diverse channels, facilitating dialogues between consumers and telecommunication service providers.

Megat said that the moment a complaint against a service provider is made to CFM, the organisation will notify the firm, giving it one day to respond, after which all parties will be brought to the table to discuss and understand what transpired, and have it resolved. Discussion can be physical or online sessions.

“We do get resolutions, but let’s say the parties are not happy with the resolution that we come up with, when it turns out that the operator was not exactly in the wrong, because if the operator is in the wrong then it is very straightforward and the compensation comes. Normally the operators will not complain and will just do it, but if the operator is not in the wrong and the complainant is still unhappy and he or she feels that CFM has not done its job properly, then they can take it up with MCMC. But let’s say in the off chance that MCMC also cannot resolve it, then it can be brought to the court,” he added.

Megat said that this was why more representatives with more diverse expertise from the telecommunications sector are needed in CFM.

“We want to be a one-stop shop. Anything to do with the services of the industry, we get contributions from so many members and in moving members we want to create greater awareness. In our demand side membership, we have MCCA, and they talk about online scammers. So even though we do not handle it directly, our members are involved in the said arena, dealing with such issues, which is a whole other level. So, if we can’t handle it, our members can.

“So, what we want to create are trust, knowledge and proper representation,” he added, also calling former industry veterans to also join CFM.

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