5 gov’t. agencies to jointly handle telco consumer complaints

The government will launch an all-out, synchronized effort to promptly deal with consumer complaints on telco services such as those involving data privacy violations, text-scams, vanishing load, unauthorized charges, defective product, and denial of subscription plan activation, among others, Privacy Commissioner Raymund Enriquez Liboro said on Friday.

Liboro said the National Privacy Commission (NPC) is jointly working with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on a draft joint administrative order (JAO) aimed at providing a more efficient way of resolving telco consumer concerns.

"Following the lead of the DTI, it should be noted that we are looking beyond just addressing consumer concerns here. This joint effort is aimed to serve as a component of the high-trust society, as envisioned in Ambisyon 2040, which is based on the building of responsive institutions that people can depend on," Liboro said.

On Tuesday, high-ranking representatives of the five agencies met with consumer groups inside the NPC's office at the PICC Convention Center in Pasay City for the first of series of public consultations on the JAO.

In the draft JAO, the NPC shall have primary and sole authority to deal with cases involving alleged violations of the Data Privacy Act and take cognizance of matters related to privacy and data protection.

The DTI shall deal with complaints involving legal or regulatory violations related to defective products, non-conformity or violation on the terms and conditions on a misleading advertisement, fraudulent sales promo, deceptive sales practices and other complaints related to warranty.

The NTC shall handle cases involving legal or regulatory violations related to text scams/spam messages, vanishing load, denial of subscriptions plan application, electronic billing, fair use policy, lock-in period, poor technical/customer service care and accessibility, unauthorized charges, and value-added service.

For the public's convenience, DTI Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo said among the salient features of the draft JAO is the so-called "no wrong door policy" where consumers may lodge complaints via any of the receiving agencies, regardless of its nature. For instance, a privacy-related e-billing complaint may be filed with the DICT office, which shall then endorse it to the NPC or the DTI depending on its merits. After taking appropriate action, the concerned agency shall then inform the endorsing agency and the complainant of the action taken.

Should there be a need to institute criminal action after having resolved the complaint, the concerned agency shall then refer the matter to the DOJ for the conduct of criminal investigation and prosecution of offenders, in accordance with existing laws, rules, and regulations.

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