LCQ9: Handling of complaints by the Office of the Communications Authority
Following is a question by Hon Wong Yuk-man and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the Legislative Council meeting today (April 17):
One of the work of the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA), established in April 2012, is to deal with complaints lodged by consumers about telecommunications and broadcasting services. Quite a number of members of the public have relayed to me that their complaints about telecommunications and pay television services were rejected by OFCA, making them feel perplexed and unsure of the scope of complaints accepted by OFCA. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:
(a) the respective numbers of complaints about telecommunications and pay television services received by OFCA since April 2012 and, among such complaints, the number of those which had been followed up, with a breakdown by type of complaints; and
(b) the plan of OFCA to publicise among the public the scope of complaints it accepts?
Telecommunications and broadcasting services are widely available to consumers in Hong Kong and have become an integral part of their daily lives. The Communications Authority (CA) receives enquiries and complaints concerning telecommunications and broadcasting services from members of the public from time to time. The CA is responsible for enforcing the provisions of the Telecommunications Ordinance, the Broadcasting Ordinance, the Broadcasting (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance, as well as the telecommunications and broadcasting licences. When evidence shows that an operator may have breached the relevant provisions, the CA will conduct investigation. In cases where there is sufficient evidence to substantiate a breach, the CA will take regulatory action against the operator concerned.
Regarding the question raised by the Member, my reply is as follows:
(a) From April 2012 to March 2013, the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) received a total of 5 129 complaint cases about telecommunications service, which mainly concern service quality, billing disputes and contract matters. During the same period, OFCA received a total of 385 complaints about pay television (other than those concerning programme contents), which mainly concern sales practice, billing disputes and contract matters.
The OFCA does not play the role of an arbitrator in handling complaints. After receiving such complaints, OFCA will, upon obtaining consent of the complainants, refer them to the operators concerned for their handling and resolution. OFCA will closely monitor the follow-up actions and replies of the operators. Based on past experience, most of the cases have been handled properly.
The number of complaints concerning telecommunications services received by OFCA over the past year with break down figures by categories, and the numbers of cases referred to and handled by operators are set out in the table below:
Furthermore, the number of complaints concerning pay television services (other than those concerning programme contents) received by OFCA over the past year with breakdown figures by categories, and the numbers of cases referred to and handled by operators are set out in the table below:
(b) In mid-2012, OFCA produced a series of announcements in the public interest (APIs) for broadcast on TV and radio to publicise the establishment of the CA and introduce to the public ways to lodge complaints concerning broadcasting and telecommunications services with the CA. Broadcast of the APIs on TV and radio will continue this year. Publicity posters on the subject will also continue to be displayed in common areas including government properties, District Offices, estate management offices and on notice boards of building owners' corporation. Detailed guidelines on lodging complaints and the complaint forms are also provided to the public through the websites of the CA and OFCA as well as their enquiry hotlines to enable the public to understand the role of the CA in dealing with complaints from consumers, the power conferred upon the CA by the legislation and the complaint handling procedures.
Moreover, OFCA will continue to conduct consumer education activities regularly, including holding talks and roving exhibitions, showing videos online and on MTR and buses, staging online games, etc. to introduce to the public the roles and functions of the CA and OFCA, as well as to educate the public on the use of communications services and consumer interests. OFCA will issue and update consumer alerts as necessary so that the public will know their rights better.
Note 1: The majority of the remaining cases could not be further dealt with because the complainants were unable to provide adequate information, or did not agree to authorise OFCA to disclose case information or refer the cases to the operators concerned.
Note 2: For the complaint cases which are in progress, OFCA has requested the operators to follow up the cases with the individual complainants appropriately.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013