Devices, subscriptions top consumer grievances: consumer agency

Taipei, April 3 (CNA) Disputes over "telecommunications services" and "mobile device and peripheral" sales topped consumer complaints for the third consecutive year in 2014, the Consumer Protection Committee (CPC, ???) said on Friday. But there were considerably fewer complaints in the two categories compared with 2013, indicating improved customer satisfaction, the Executive Yuan body said. The most common source of disputes was telecommunications services, with 3,254 complaints received by the agency in 2014, down 23.85 percent from a year earlier. There were 2,330 disputes involving mobile devices during the year, down 10.94 percent from 2013.
Signal quality, penalties for backing out of subscription contracts and sales promotion programs were the major issues sparking complaints about telecommunications services, said committee official Wang Shu-huei (???). The common dispute over unsatisfactory signal quality is best resolved at the core of the problem through the reexamination of service subscription contracts by the National Communications Commission (NCC), Wang said. In those cases, consumers are often motivated to back out of their contracts prematurely and end up paying a penalty for breaching their subscription contracts, she said. The NCC will advise companies to provide discounts on monthly fees or exempt consumers from paying penalties if telecom carriers are found to be responsible for unsatisfactory signal quality at the consumer's end, such as in cases when wireless signal towers are removed, resulting in inadequate coverage, she said. On disputes over purchases of mobile devices and peripherals, Wang recalled a consumer who purchased a smartphone last year that overheated to the point that its screen was warped within three months of normal usage. The consumer complained that the retailer attributed the damage to misuse and refused to bear the cost of repairs as stipulated in the warranty. The dispute was not resolved, and Wang advised consumers who face such problems to carefully examine each product's warranty and avoid misusing devices in ways that could void warranty terms. The committee also held a meeting Friday on regulating product repair services and improving the transparency of potential costs of app sales to protect the interests of consumers. (By Yang Su-min and Ted Chen)