The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has implemented a new Mandatory Standards for Quality of Service (Customer Service) that will protect the rights of mobile and Internet consumers in the country.
A Public Inquiry Paper was prepared in April 2021 and a final report was released last month, after taking into feedback and consultation with stakeholders such as Maxis, Celcom, Digi, U Mobile, Telekom Malaysia, TIME dotCom and other service providers.
One of the new Mandatory Standards on Customer Service that has been implemented by MCMC is related to complaints resolution.
Complaints can only be Closed with Consent from Customers
In the past few decades, complaints on poor mobile and Internet services are marked resolved, even if the issue is not immediately resolved by service providers. Consumers who are still not satisfied may need to go through the same process again, as complaints that are marked resolved cannot be reopened again.
With the new Mandatory Standards on Customer Service, complaints can only be “closed” after getting consent from consumers.
MCMC said the term ‘closed’ instead of ‘resolved’ will now be used for complaint resolution.
As of 1 August 2021, a ‘closed’ complaint will now include the definition as below:
- Complaint has been dealt with reasonably and adequately.
- Complainant (customer) consented to the resolution of the complaint provided by the service provider and agreed to close the complaint.
However, this does not mean consumers are always right, to not ‘close’ a complaint, as MCMC gets to determine if a service provider has taken the necessary, reasonable steps to resolve the dispute.
MCMC said it “may determine whether the service provider has taken steps to address the complaint and whether it is reasonable to conclude that such steps have addressed the dissatisfaction of the complaint. This includes escalation of such complaints to the Consumer Forum of Malaysia by the service provider and/or complainant, or to other mediation/ arbitration avenues, including the Courts.”
“The Commission’s intention to substitute the term to ‘closed’ is to address consumer issues of complaints ‘resolved’ but not satisfactorily addressed by service providers or misinterpretation of the term ‘resolved’.”
How the Telcos reacted during the public inquiry (April-June):
Majority of the respondents disagreed to substitute ‘resolved’ with ‘closed’, and does not intend to seek consent from customers to close a complaint.
Maxis, U Mobile, Allo, XOX, Astro, Celcom, Telekom Malaysia, TIME dotcom and YTL have all disagreed with the requirement to seek consent from customers, to close their complaints.
Maxis proposed that a complaint is marked ‘closed’ when it shares a resolution with the complainant. This means that a complaint is closed even if the customer may not be happy with the solution.
U Mobile is in view that in most cases complainants (customers) do not provide consent to close even though a resolution has been given by the service provider. U Mobile proposed the ‘closed’ be defined as a resolution having been shared with the complainant.
XOX said that receiving consent from complainant to close the complaints can “lead to a longer period recorded on handling time”.
“Astro opined that it is very challenging to get customer to consent on the resolution that has been provided by service provider especially for complaints that requires resolution beyond the service provider to other third parties. Astro is of the view that instead of getting the customers to consent to close the complaints, focus should be on whether the service provider has taken the steps to address the complaint and whether the resolution provided by the service provider has adequately addressed the complaint within the respective means.”
Celcom claims the new standard “will impact performance of complaints resolution time and hence impose further pressure to the service provider,”
TIME said, “There are times where, customers may not wish to close the case despite the resolution given. Customers may be adopting a wait and see disposition. This will place the Service Provider at a significant disadvantage, as the case will be unnecessarily prolonged.
Typically, even if the solution provided is reasonable, Service Providers will be left to the mercy of customers as there is currently no final arbitration mechanism to conclude and resolve the complaint”
YTL said the proposal is “unfair and ineffective” for the following reasons:
- Customers might be unsatisfied with the resolution although the resolution is fair and reasonable;
- Customer might not have opened his/her email or App to view the resolution given by the Service Provider within the stipulated date. With no such consent, the Service Provider would have to park such cases into unresolved category that leads to non-compliance which is not an efficient method of reporting.
- The requirement of consent from the customer could encourage unreasonable behavior by the customers.
- Many customers do not respond once the complaint has been resolved.
“TM disagreed as changing the categorisation may lead to system changes and that could result to huge costs. It may also require retraining the customer service team which will take considerable time. The changes for any implementation may be lengthy before stabilization. From the network point of view, the term ‘resolved’ means matters been attended and service restored so the service availability is not mean the satisfaction to the consumer.” [Editor’s note: The comment made by TM is published as it is]