My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How FLOW and Digicel Jamaica can improve Customer Contracts as OUR sets Guidelines, Limitations and Penalties

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How FLOW and Digicel Jamaica can improve Customer Contracts as OUR sets Guidelines, Limitations and Penalties

“These guidelines will seek to limit the ability of licensees to take advantage of the weaker bargaining power of customers in their dealings......Also, to the extent necessary, directives will be issued to licensees to modify or remove clauses from their existing customer contracts that are determined to contain unfair contract terms”

OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) commenting on the coming guidelines, limitations and penalties for telecom providers when setting contracts for products and services

Feeling cheated by your Telecom Provider? The OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) is here to Jamaicans customers rescue, finally!!

They are currently recruiting consultant to help set guidelines, limitations and penalties for telecom providers when setting contracts for products and services as reported in the article “OUR To Overhaul Terms Of Telecoms Customer Contracts”, published Wednesday September 7, 2016, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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The project will be divided into two (2) sections:

1.      Assess current customer contracts in the telecoms sector
2.      Developing guidelines for telecoms to guard against unfair contract terms
3.      Develope penalty regime for offences against the Telecommunications Act and regulations made under the act

The consultant will examine existing legislation and compare it to international best practice relative taking into consideration:

1.      The current service level agreements
2.      General terms and conditions of service other forms of contracts with customers

The OUR hopes to identify contracts with unfair and unreasonable terms and eventually lay down guidelines, limitations and penalties to guide telecom providers as to which terms and conditions are unreasonable and are not allowed in customer contracts.

OUR and Customer Contracts - Telecom Providers can introduce Remote Viewing to help customers

This has become necessary as the Telecommunication Act of 2012 does not specify what is considered unreasonable or unfair service.

But with the recent increase in complaint to the CAC (Consumer Affairs Commission) since the Second Quarter of 2015, companies such as FLOW Jamaica are facing a 74% increase in complaints as noted in my blog article entitled “74 Percent increase in FLOW Jamaica problems to OUR - FLOW's infrastructure problems as Digicel Fibre is coming”. 

More recently, FLOW Jamaica has experienced an islandwide outage when their entire Network, Mobile, Fixed line and Broadband Network, went down between Friday September 2nd and Saturday September 3rd 2016 as reported in my Geezam blog article entitled “FLOW Jamaica Network Outage due to 1 Million Satisfied Customers”.

FLOW Jamaica's customer contract currently states that, rebates are only given if subscribers are without service for at least 72 hours. Given that most customers had service restored within 24 hours, rebates were not necessary.

But the same level of service doesn’t apply to Mobile customers, who often lose Data Services and Credit due to a lack of knowledge about the settings on their smartphone as noted in my blog article entitled “How to stop FLOW Jamaica or Digicel smartphone using your Mobile Data and Credit”. 

So what can be done to fix Customer Contracts?

How to improve Customer Contracts - FLOW Lend, Mobile Money and Remote Login

So changes need to implemented as it relates to how quickly service are restored and penalties against the company, such as rebates, can be applied.

The same need to be done with Mobile and the loss of Data Services and Credit, with customer getting full compensation once they can prove their claim instead of being told what they did wrong.

In the case of FLOW Jamaica, this can be in the form of FLOW Lend Credit for the customer as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “FLOW Jamaica launches FLOW Lend so you can borrow Voucher Credit

FLOW Lend credit can be given away by Customer Care Agents when they call in, are fully registered and verified using the following:

1.      Full Name
2.      Address
3.      Date of Birth
4.      GOJ ID i.e. Driver’s License, Passport and Voter’s ID

This idea of given the customer bonus credit is similar to the way that Amazon gives Coupons away as compensation so that customers can use it towards purchasing something else on their website.

To make this possible, there needs to be a drive to increase registration of new subscribers with a FLOW ID as argued in my Geezam blog article entitled “FLOW Jamaica FAM Postpaid needs FLOW ID, My FLOW App and Mobile Money”.

This can be achieved by giving away a product or service for free in exchange for customer becoming fully registered and receiving a FLOW ID, making it easier for them to receive compensation and rebates for service lost.

Customer, now armed with their FLOW ID, can now be encouraged to sign up to the My FLOW App. The My FLOW App enable them to check their mobile balances and pay for their postpaid services.

It could also be enabled to allow Customer Care Agents to remotely access the phone and fix problems on the smartphone. This would be possible once they’re near to any FLOW Horizon Wi-Fi or other Wi-Fi or simply have activated a Data plan on their smartphone.

Purchasing credit should be easier, with FLOW Jamaica integrating the API for CONEC Mobile and NCB Quisk as described in my blog article entitled “How NCB Quisk Compares to CONEC Mobile Wallet as Jamaica goes Cashless” into their My FLOW App.

FLOW Jamaica Scenario – How do deal with a customer who has lost Credit

So let’s consider a scenario!

In the case where the Customer Care Agent encounters has a fully registered customer with FLOW ID (or Digicel ID??), they would at their discretion, offer the caller one of two (2) options as compensation:

1.      Bonus Credit to make FLOW to FLOW calls
2.      FLOW Lend credit that can do anything but you have to pay it back.

For my example, I’ll be focusing on FLOW Jamaica, since I know them pretty well as pointed out in my blog article entitled “How to find work in Jamaica at Call Centers - A Brief Listing of Call Center Job Openings in New Kingston”!

If the customer lost more than JA$475 the maximum for FLOW Lend, or is refusing to take any of these options, then FLOW will have to give the person their credit back. However, this would be on the promise that they visit a FLOW Store to have the My FLOW App installed before they can get back their credit.

Once the FLOW Store technician installed the My FLOW App, they would get back their credit in full. The installed My FLOW App would then be set to monitor the customer and track their actions on their Smartphone.

This would help create a forensic profile of the customer that would be sent to FLOW Jamaica and would not count against their data. The data captured could be used in the second instance that the customer loses credit to prove whether or not FLOW is culpable and has to compensate them for their loss.

It would also help to identify the real root cause of what causes the phones to use off the customer Data Plan and Credit. This will make it easier to educate the customer and recommend settings to them as it relates to their data usage and management of their smartphone.

FLOW Jamaica benefits as it would make the company appear fairer in the eyes of the customer. It would also make it possible for them to comply with the coming OUR guidelines, limitations and penalties for telecom providers when setting contracts for products and services.

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