Mandatory scheme to be introduced for telcos to settle disputes with customers

Mandatory scheme to be introduced for telcos to settle disputes with customers

This means customers with billing and contract issues will not have to go to the Small Claims Tribunal or consumer watchdog CASE.

SINGAPORE: A dedicated, independent platform to settle disputes between local telcos and their subscribers will be set up in Singapore, said Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim in Parliament on Thursday (Nov 10).

According to Dr Yaacob, the participation in the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme will be made mandatory for service providers. Consumers will have the flexibility to resolve their disputes through the scheme, or via other avenues such as the Courts or Small Claims Tribunal.

“As such disputes may relate to specific billing and contractual issues, having a dedicated scheme that is familiar with the technicalities of service plans and packages will ensure a smoother process for all parties involved,” said the minister.

He added that under the scheme, subscribers will have to pay a nominal fee to dissuade them from making frivolous claims. And outcomes will be "binding" when settlements are reached.

In 2015, approximately 400 disputes were escalated to the IMDA. Dr Yaacob said the number is "likely to be higher" as some subscribers may have given up on pursuing their disputes.

A Bill has been tabled to empower the newly formed Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) to establish the ADR framework.

As this is the first time such a scheme is being rolled out here, Dr Yaacob said IMDA will learn from other jurisdictions with similar programmes, and consult affected stakeholders. The Government body will hold a public consultation exercise on the operational design of the scheme once the framework is in place.

" IMDA is exploring the possibility of appointing existing mediation service providers such as CASE to help us in the rolling out of the scheme. This will allow us to share overheads and more importantly, skilled mediators across platforms," Dr Yaacob said.

Source: CNA/xk