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Posted On: 5 August 2009 12:52 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:09 pm

Ombudsman for telecom sector urged

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Vodafone Qatar CEO Grahame Maher has suggested the appointment of an ombudsman to ensure ‘proper business practices’ in the country’s telecom sector. The ombudsman must deal with all customer grievances in the telecom sector, he said. Maher said the ombudsman should be independent of ictQATAR - the country’s supreme telecom regulator - with the mandate of guaranteeing ‘customer fair trade practices’. He said in many countries industry ombudsman functions totally independent of the supreme regulator or the regulator, who is responsible for healthy competition. “When the ombudsman’s authority is fixed to ensuring proper business practices, the results ought to be good. If a customer in Qatar is treated badly by either Vodafone or Qtel, the customer can directly approach the statutory body to get his grievances redressed. At the same time, the service providers will be extremely careful in their business practices or dealing with customers, when an ombudsman watches,” Maher told Gulf Times. He said an ombudsman’s presence becomes all the more inevitable when a service provider kicks off a campaign with ‘partial truth’. “I am very upset at the current Qtel campaign on international call rates. Qtel says it is offering international calls at Dh29/minute. My information is that only a few thousand customers actually get this rate. The promotion is limited to a section of Qtel’s post-paid - Shahry customers, who are heavily outnumbered by its pre-paid (Hala) users. “On the other hand, my offer on international calls at Dh50 a minute is available to all Vodafone customers. There are no strings attached to it. Vodafone strongly believes customers have the right to choose sensibly,” Maher said. Asked whether customers could continue to expect what Vodafone offered, the CEO said, “We are a renowned brand globally. Our goal is to be the most trustworthy brand in Qatar. I mean to deliver what I offer.” Maher lauded Qtel’s recently unveiled customer charter and termed it a ‘good step’. “Qtel is a good company and it is improving. Telecom customers in the country have now realised what competition meant to them. At the end of the day, customers’ benefit, that’s important.” But, he said, the customer charter would have no relevance if it was meant to remain on paper. “The charter is fine, but it matters how you behave. How the charter is implemented is more important than how it is prepared,” Maher added.