As part of its mandate, Eswatini Communications Commission is required to ensure end-user protection and privacy in the provision of all communication products and services in Eswatini. The ICT sector experiences continuous advancements, which challenges the Commission to ensure that consumers derive the maximum benefit from it while being protected from any form of harm or exploitation. The Commission has therefore developed programs and initiatives to ensure consumers are aware of their rights as they purchase and utilise ICT products and services. Below are the rights consumers are entitled to and can demand from the different service providers.
The consumer has to be protected against ICT products, equipment and production processes that are hazardous to health or dangerous to life of present and future generations.
The consumer has a right to access transparent, up-to-date, and complete information on the product or service they are purchasing from service providers, including the relevant terms and conditions. This right impels service providers to factually inform consumers about such issues as;
The consumer has the right to acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident and intelligent choices about ICT products and services while being aware of basic consumer rights.
The consumer has a right to select their preferred service provider, product and/or service, where multiple options exist.
The consumer has the right to be provided with numerous opportunities and channels for them to express their opinions, complaints and suggestions towards the improvement of the service delivery.
The consumer has the right to receive a fair settlement of bona fide claims against the service providers, including compensation for misrepresentation, service failure or interruption, inferior or unsatisfactory services. The consumer also has a right to exercise out-of-court procedures for the settlement of disputes. Such processes must be simple, transparent, and free to consumers, and must allow for a fair settlement within a reasonable time period.
The consumer has the right to access basic ICT products and services that are reliable and of high quality, from both service providers and the Regulator. Service Providers must publish information about initial supply times, fault rates and repair times as well as put technical and organizational measures in place to guarantee the integrity and security of their networks and services. The Regulator should set and enforce quality of service standards. Consumers are entitled to guaranteed access to emergency calling services.
The consumer has a right to enjoy lawful personal privacy and should be protected against unauthorized use of their personal information. The consumer shall have a reasonable expectation of privacy regarding their personal information and calling patterns. Service providers may use and disclose confidential consumer or subscriber information only for the purposes for which it was collected, except by written consent of the consumer or as expressly permitted by national law.
The consumer has a right to be availed with clear, accurate and understandable bills for products and services they subscribe to, in accordance with agreed terms and conditions. Charges should respond to the services consumed, and consumers should not be made to pay for ancillary services they do not need.
Consumers have a right to a non-itemized bill and, where itemized bills are provided, these should be in accordance with the consumer’s right to privacy.
The consumer has a right to be represented by a responsive regulatory Commission that is continuously and proactively looking out for their interests, considering their needs, expectations, preferences and values. As such, the Commission shall;
The consumer has a right to be protected from market abuse such as excessive pricing, discriminatory pricing, contractual lock-ins, unfair trade practices including false and misleading advertising as well as any form of anti-competitive behaviour. Measures for non-payment of bills should be proportionate and non-discriminatory, with the consumer given prior notice of termination or interruption of service. Prior to disconnection, consumers have the right to a reduced service that allows them to make emergency calls.
The consumer has a right to cancel a contract within reasonably short periods not exceeding ninety (90) days from the date of signing the contract. Cancellation provisions shall be clearly indicated in all contracts.
Equally important to consumer rights, are consumer responsibilities. Consumer responsibilities are positive actions, attitudes and behaviours that should be practiced while accessing and using telecommunications services and products, to ensure sensitivity to individuals, groups, authorities and the physical environment is upheld.
ICT consumers must take responsibility for;
2.1 Proper use of products and services;
Using communications systems and services in the appropriate manner, without abusing them.
2.2 Prompt payment of bills
Consumers have an obligation to pay for all products and services received as required.
Consumers should seek to familiarize themselves with and honour consumer obligations under any contract entered into with a product or service provider. This also includes familiarizing themselves with and abiding by any safety or security requirements pertaining to the use of communications systems and services.
2.4 Courtesy and politeness
Consumers should make reasonable decisions and actions in exercising their rights.
2.5 Genuine complaints
Consumers have a responsibility to lodge only legitimate complaints and claims.