Consumer rights: FCCPC issues new directive to MultiChoice

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The Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has ordered MultiChoice Nigeria Limited to increase the number of times all subscribers may suspend their subscription.

FCCPC in a statement by its Director of Legal Services, Tam Tamunokonbia, said subscribers should be able to suspend their subscription up to at least four times annually.

The resolution was reached to prevent consumers from being exploited after an investigation was prompted by complaints regarding allegations of abuse of dominant position by MCN.

FCCPC had last year opened an investigation into the conduct of dominant Pay TV service providers.

However, the commission has now directed MultiChoice to provide a price lock option that allows subscribers to maintain the same subscription fee for a minimum period of one year subject to a contractual agreement that clearly specifies the applicable terms and conditions.

The statement reads, ”The Commission has prepared and delivered a detailed Investigative Report to MCN showing its findings with respect to the investigation.

”For the purpose of ensuring that any material changes in key terms with respect to value propositions including, but not limited to cost or price, on account of its dominance, and to prevent consumers from being otherwise exploited, including by the conduct of other players in the market, MultiChoice shall introduce additional features prior to any proposed or contemplated changes in terms and conditions as identified in this Order to the extent that such change in price constitutes an increase in what consumers pay, regardless of any value addition. Such features should at a minimum include:

”A price lock option that allows subscribers to maintain the same subscription fee for a minimum period of one year subject to a contractual agreement that clearly specifies the applicable terms and conditions. MultiChoice Nigeria shall submit to the Commission a draft of this agreement within seven (7) days of receipt of this Order.

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”A better value for money proposition for annual prepayment of subscription, including the ability to suspend subscription at least once every quarter of the year.

”Clear communication to each subscriber regarding all channels available within their selected bouquet option. d. Any other value proposition MultiChoice considers appropriate and applicable, subject to adequate engagement with the Commission.

”Provide completely toll-free customer service lines which are operational 24 hours daily, and through which consumers may receive support with respect to their use of the services offered by MultiChoice Nigeria. These lines must be toll-free across networks, not only within the same networks as is presently the case. MultiChoice Nigeria must within the time stipulated in the Commission’s Order of February 4, 2022, provide the Commission with a work plan and timeline for the purpose of articulating, and addressing where possible and applicable, any constraints with respect to complying with, and operationalizing this specific Order.

”Advertise the existing toll-free customer service lines more frequently and more widely on channels available and under the control of MultiChoice on the DStv and GOtv platforms. Such advertisement must run on each channel at least daily.

”Increase the number of times all subscribers may suspend their subscription up to at least four (4) times annually.

”Submit to the Commission a compliance report demonstrating full compliance with the above orders within the time stipulated in the Commission’s Order of February 4, 2022.”

The commission further warned that a violation of its Order attracts a fine/penalty of N5,000,000.00 (Five Million Naira only) under the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (Administrative Penalties) Regulations, 2020.

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