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Complaints galore at BTRC hearing

Officials say steps will be taken to ensure accountability


FE Report | June 13, 2019 00:00:00


Complaints about poor services poured in against the country's telecom operators at a public hearing in the city on Wednesday.

The mobile phone users also came up with allegations of exorbitant prices and deceptive charges and packages as the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) held the hearing at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB) auditorium in the capital.

It received around 1,600 complaints from 165 entries. A good number of complainants were also present at the hearing.

Senior officials of the telecom regulator replied to the queries in presence of senior executives of the mobile phone operators at the second such hearing after the first one held in November 2016.

The clients pointed their finger at the regulator, saying that it was siding with the operators instead of ensuring better services for the users.

They complained about the poor services being rendered by the telecom operators, saying that let alone rural areas, quality mobile network coverage was not available at many places of the capital city.

The clients alleged at the hearing that the 4G service was only in paper, even 2G was not available at many places across the country.

A good number of complainants evinced similar grievances that the operators cut excessive amount of money, sometimes repeatedly, for the same value added services, data or call packages.

The users said they did not get remedy even after filing complaints with the operators or the regulator.

Many clients complained that they formally submitted their allegations to the BTRC, which neither resolved the problems nor replied to the allegations.

Some serious complaints cropped up involving security issues like threatening through using unregistered phone numbers despite introduction of the biometric identification system and incoming text service carry-over even after deregistering a number, etc.

The clients also complained about promotional calls and texts, which they found very 'irritating' and urged the regulator to stop it.

A client who was identified as Shariful Islam complained about USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) service, and said he could not purchase a data package and it took one month and seven days to resolve the problem.

"I called hundreds of times to my operator, visited customer care centre, formally lodged complaint with the BTRC, but there was no solution. At last, when I said I would deregister my number, they resolved my

problem," he said.

A client from the city's Mohammadpur area said he could not access the network at his residence as well as at his office in the city's Elephant Road area.

Speaking at the programme, BTRC Chairman Md Jahurul Haque said the regulator was going to use social media platforms such as Facebook and Viber, among others, to receive complaints from the customers.

"We always welcome complaints and that will help us address the issues and improve the service quality," he said.

He said currently their complaints receiving call centre works only during the office hours. However, it has been decided that the call centre will run round-the-clock, even on the holidays, he said.

The call centre for receiving the complaints uses the short code 100.

The BTRC chairman said they would organise public hearings more frequently in future.

BTRC commissioners, director general and senior officials also replied to the customers' complaints. They said BTRC is now doing cost modeling for data service. After the modeling is done, they added, data prices will be cheaper.

They said the regulator is also going to install a central monitoring system at the BTRC office to monitor whether calls, packages and prices matched the offers made by the telecom operators.

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