RANCARD MOBILITY NIGERIA LIMITED CONSUMER CODE OF PRACTICE

by Edward Yeboah, August 30, 2018

PART I – INTRODUCTION
1. (1) Rancard Mobility Nigeria Limited (“Licensee”), Consumer Code of Practice (the “ Code”) made pursuant to Section 106 (2) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (“the Act”) and Regulation 4 (1) of the Consumer Code of Practice Regulations 2007 (“the Regulations),
(2) The Code is to be read where applicable, in conjunction with the General Consumer Code of Practice (“the General Code”) attached as schedule 1 to the Regulation.

2. Terms used in this Code are either as defined in this Code, the General Code or they have the meanings defined in the Act.

3. The Code shall govern the provision of services to consumers by the Licensee. In the event of a conflict between the Code and the General Code, to the extent that the terms of the Code are not less favourable to Consumers than the General Code, this Code shall apply

4. This Individual Code is subject to changes so as to comply with the minimum sets of requirements of the General Code as may be amended from time to time by the Nigerian Communications Commission (“Commission”) or based on the recommendations of the Commission.

PART II—PROVISION OF INFORMATION TO CONSUMERS

5._ (1) Licensee shall provide consumers with information on their services that is complete, accurate, up to date and in simple clean language. This would be provided to both the customer service department of the Mobile Network Operator and also in the welcome message after opting for the service.

(2) Licensee shall endeavor to respond in a timely manner to Consumer requests for information on their services and such information shall be provided free of charge and shall include at least the following :

(a) Current service, arrangements, including tariff and information about the service for
all services offered to the public, shall be readily available through the appropriate media including electronic format on Licensee’s website

(b) Any request in tariff changes would be done under the auspice Licensee in consultation with the MNO will get approval about any tariff change and also give the user/subscriber adequate information with the option to opt out.

(d) Licensee shall also endeavor to send out content that the user has only opted for without sending out unsolicited messages, giving the user the right to ‘opt in’ and ‘opt out’ of a service.

6. Licensee shall supply, or make available on request, a copy of the contract or agreement for the provision of services, and such contracts shall be written in plain and clear language.

7. (1) Before activating any service, Consumers shall be provided a complete description of the service in clear and plain language, avoiding unnecessary technical terms, in the consumers Service Activation message.
Confirmation of subscription
– Service details
– Service delivery schedules
– Service charges
– Frequency of billing
– Instructions on how to unsubscribe from the service

Where other services are required in order to effectively utilize the service, the Consumer shall be sufficiently informed of such requirements or service dependencies.

(2)The licensee shall provide the consumer with access to a HELP function to obtain info on services they are at the time of the request subscribed to and how to opt out in clear plain English.

(3) Where services are packaged with one or more other services or products, the Licensee shall provide the Consumer in relation to each service or product:

(a) For services that are bundled with services from third parties, Licensees shall be fully responsible for the effective performance of the entire package including service support, maintenance, complaints handling requirements.

(4) Where services are subject to upgrade or migration options, Consumers shall be provided with clear and complete information regarding the upgrade or migration terms, including any changes in service performance and any duly approved fees or charges resulting from the upgrade or migration.

8. Licensees shall provide services within any service supply time targets set out in the Commission’s Quality of Service Regulations, subject to the following:

(a) in the event the Licensee encounters technical problems that interfere with provisioning of the service(s), the time for provisioning will be subject to any time or process of rectification permitted by the Commission ;

(b) Licensees will not be responsible for delays or refusals of service requests caused by the Consumer being identified as not credit-worthy.

9.(1) Licensees shall implement the facilities and processes needed to permit Consumers to report faults 24 hours a day.

(2) Licensees shall comply and shall cause their agents to comply with the relevant fault repair standards set in this code of conduct.

(3) Licensees shall endeavor to give advance warning of anticipated service disruptions or planned outages, including details of the disruption or outage, the services and service areas affected and any applicable compensation or other remedies.

(4) In the event of force majeure such as floods and storms the Licensee shall endeavor to rectify the fault within such period of time as may be reasonable in the circumstances.

10. (1) The Licensee shall comply with any network or other requirements that may be approved by the Commission in respect of the provision of emergency services, including such measures as location identification information, special numbers and routing to emergency services locations.

PART III—ADVERTISING AND REPRESENTATION OF SERVICES

11. The Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) regulates advertising practices in Nigeria, and has established the Nigerian Code of Advertising Practice. Licensees shall comply with the advertising standards established by APCON, and any other applicable laws or standards, in addition to the rules regarding the advertising or other promotion of telecommunications services set out in this Code.

12. (1) Licensees shall make clear in advertising materials which promote the availability of a service any geographical or technical limitations on the availability of the service to consumers which :

(a) substantially affect the performance of the service ; and

(b) are known to the Licensee.

(2) Licensees shall make clear in any advertising materials which promote a service offer any limitations in the offer which restrict it—

(a) to a particular group of people ;

(b) to a partial zone, region or other geographical area within the country ;

(c) to a particular period of time ; or

(d) through the limited availability of equipment, facilities or other materials.

13. (1) Where the Licensee represents in advertising materials that a service is provided as part of a package, the Licensee shall ensure it is able to supply all components of the service package. In the event the Licensee is or may be unable to supply any component of the package, appropriate information about this limitation shall be included in the advertising materials.

(2) Where advertising materials indicate the price of a component of a service package, a Licensee shall include in the advertising materials a statement of the minimum total charge for the package, and indicate any conditions that may apply to obtain the component at the stated price.

14. (1) The Licensee shall not engage in unsolicited telemarketing unless it discloses:

(a) at the beginning of the communication, the identity of the Licensee or other person on whose behalf it is made and the precise purpose of the communication ;

(b) during the communication, the full price of any product or service that is the subject of the communication ; and

(c) that the person receiving the communication shall have an absolute right to cancel the agreement for purchase, lease or other supply of any product or service within seven (7) days of the communication, by contacting a service number via SMS, voice, USSD or over the internet (without any charge, and that the Licensee shall specifically identify during the communication) unless the product or service has by that time been supplied to and used by the person receiving the communication.

(2) Licensees shall also conduct telemarketing in accordance with any “call” or “do not call” preferences recorded by the Consumer, at the time of entering into a contract for services or after, and in accordance with any other rules or guidelines issued by the Commission or any other competent authority.

PART IV—CONSUMER BILLING, CHARGING, COLLECTION AND CREDIT PRACTICES

15. The Licensee shall at all times endeavor to—

(a) ensure that billing is accurate and timely ;
(b) ensure that billing accuracy is verifiable ;
(c) ensure that sufficient information shall be readily available to the Consumer for verification of each billing transaction without any charge ;
(d) ensure that upon a bona fide request from a Consumer, the Licensee shall inform or provide the Consumer with timely, accurate and current information about its billing terms and conditions and options relevant to that Consumer ;
(e) retain records of a Consumer’s bill and related charges for a minimum period of twelve (12) months ; and
(j) in interpreting the obligations described in this section, references to “billing” or “bill” include the Licensees systems for recording and processing any prepaid transactions, including the debiting of service charges against prepaid card balances.

16.The Licensee shall ensure that, at a minimum, the following information is included in any billing or charging notifications issued by it or on its behalf :

(a) the name of the service for which the Consumer has been billed ;
(b) the type of service for which the Consumer has been billed and the service delivery medium ;
(c) the period over which the service associated with the charge will be provided ;
(d) the total amount billed or charged to Consumer’s prepaid account ;

17. The Licensee shall ensure that each mobile network operator has access to itemized details of all charges pertaining to subscribers on that mobile network and Licensee shall ensure that all such itemized details are available for 12 months after the billing/charging events have occurred.

18. The Licensee shall ensure that in instances where a service for which a consumer has been billed cannot be delivered, the Consumer will be subsequently offered the service at no extra for a period of time equal to the period over which the service should have been delivered but was not.
Where the circumstances will not permit the service to be delivered (due to circumstances beyond the reasonable control of the Licensee, such as an event of force majeure or a technical system failure at the mobile network resulting in service interruption) the Licensee shall liaise with the mobile network operator to establish a suitable resolution path that will ensure that Consumers do not lose any value and are appropriately compensated.

19. Licensees shall provide Consumers with advance notification of any proposed changes in billing before any such changes are implemented via any channel over which Licensees services are offered. Consumers shall be informed in all such notifications of how to opt out of the service to avoid experiencing the proposed changes to billing.

20. Where a Consumer has not paid the Licensee all or part of a bill for services provided by the Licensee, any measures taken by the Licensee to effect payment or disconnection shall—
(a) be proportionate and not unduly discriminatory ; and

(b) be accompanied by appropriate warning to the Consumer in advance of any resulting service interruption or disconnection ; and

(c) confine any service interruption or disconnection to the service(s) concerned, as far as technically feasible.

PART V—CONSUMER OBLIGATIONS

21. Consumers shall be required to abide by the terms of service use which will be made available to them at the point of opting into a service via, text, USSD, WAP page or website or other channels that would be communicated to subscribers.

22. Consumers who subscribe to  or opt into any service shall not use any equipment or related devices for accessing the service  for reasons other than those related to normal service and shall not do anything contrary to the service scheme and model communicated to the consumer upon first subscribing  or opting into the service. Consumers shall be responsible for any loss of services that results from actions contrary to the service terms or the General Code.

PART VI—PROTECTION OF CONSUMER INFORMATION

23. (1) The purpose of this part is to set out the responsibility of a Licensee in the protection of individual Consumer information.

(2) Licensees should also be aware of the authority granted to the Commission under Section 147 of the Act, which permits the Commission on certain situations to allow “authorised interception of communications”, including stipulating the technical requirements for authorised interception.

24.(1) A Licensee may collect and maintain information on individual Consumers reasonably required for its business purposes. However, the collection and maintenance of information on individual Consumers shall be

 

(a) fairly and lawfully collected and processed ;

(b) processed for limited and identified purposes ;

(c) relevant and not excessive ;

(d) accurate ;

(e) not kept longer than necessary ;

(f) processed in accordance with the Consumer’s other rights ;

(g) protected against improper or accidental disclosure ; and

(h) not transferred to any party except as permitted by any terms and conditions agreed with the Consumer, as permitted by any permission or approval of the Commission, or as otherwise permitted or required by other applicable laws or regulations

(2) Licensees shall meet generally accepted fair information principles including:

(a) providing notice as to that individual Consumer information they collect, and its use or disclosure ;

(b) the choices Consumers have with regard to the collection, use and, disclosure of that information ;

(c) the access Consumers have to that information, including to ensure its accuracy ; and

 

(d) the security measures taken to protect the information, and the enforcement and redress mechanisms that are in place to remedy any failure to observe these measures.

(3) These rules apply to individual Consumer information whether initially provided verbally or in written form, so long as that information is retained by the Licensee in any recorded form.

25. The Licensee shall adopt and implement a policy regarding the proper collection, use and protection of information collected from consumers.  Licensees shall ensure that any other Licensees or other persons with whom they exchange or otherwise disclose such information have adopted and implemented an appropriate protection of Consumer information policy.

26. (1) A Licensee’s policy on the protection of Consumer information shall be made available in an accessible and easy to read manner, including as specifically directed by the Commission from time to time.

(2) The policy shall state clearly what information is being collected; the use of that information; possible third party exchange or disclosure of that information; and the choices available to the Consumer regarding collection, use and disclosure of the collected information.

(3) The policy shall disclose the consequences, if any, of a Consumer’s refusal to provide information.

(4) The policy shall also include a clear statement of how to contact the Licensee regarding information issues and related information access or complaint mechanisms.

27. (1) Licensees collecting, maintaining, using or disclosing individually identifiable Consumer information shall take reasonable steps to ensure that the information is accurate, relevant and current for the purposes for which it is to be used.

(2) Licensees shall establish appropriate processes or mechanisms so that inaccuracies in individual Consumer information, including out of date information, may be identified and corrected. Other procedures to ensure data quality may include use of reliable sources and collection methods, reasonable and appropriate Consumer access and correction, and protection against incidental or unauthorized alteration.

 

 

 

PART VII—COMPLAINTS HANDLING

28.—(1) Licensees are encouraged to make adequate provision to ensure that people with physical disabilities or other special needs are able to access their complaint handling processes, including ensuring that Consumers can be easily represented by their authorised representatives in order to make a complaint.

(2) Licensee will adequately equip the customer service departments of the Network Operator with tools that allow easy reporting and tracking for all consumer complaints and the licensees internal customer service and technical support team.

(3) Where possible, Consumers shall be advised when they make a complaint of the expected actions and timing for investigating and resolving the complaints. Licensee shall ensure up to 5 minutes response time to consumer complaint logged in by a customer service representative of the Network Operator.

(4) Consumers shall be advised of the outcome of the investigation of their complaint, and any resulting decision by the Licensee through the customer service departments of the Network Operator

(5) In the event that a complaint has not been resolved to the Consumer’s satisfaction, including as a result of any escalation process, within sixty (60) days of being communicated to the Licensee, the Licensee shall inform the Consumer that he or she may refer the complaint to the Commission.

29.(1) Licensees shall have appropriate recording systems for complaints and their outcomes. Complaints tracking data shall be categorized + and analyzed by the Licensee from time to time to allow for the identification of recurring problems

30. Licensees shall review their complaint handling and tracking processes from time to time to ensure effective processing, of complaints. Licensees shall also report on the outcome of these reviews as requested by the Commission, and shall make any changes to complaint handling and tracking processes identified, by the Commission.

31. Information collected and recorded as part of the Licensee’s complaint handling processes shall be retained by Licensees for at least twelve (12) months following resolution of a complaint.

PART VIII—CODE COMPLIANCE

32. Licensees shall—

(a) develop appropriate policies and procedures for ensuring compliance with this Code (or any other consumer code approved by the Commission);

(b) ensure that the compliance policy, procedures and applicable code provisions are publicized to employees and other representatives of the Licensee ;

(c) develop appropriate procedures or programs to educate employees regarding code compliance issues;

(d) implement appropriate management structures and practices to monitor compliance with the policies, procedures and code provisions ; and

(e) provide information to the Commission, as provided for in this Code or as otherwise requested by the Commission, relevant to the Licensee’s consumer code obligations and ongoing compliance efforts.

33. (1) The Commission will monitor compliance with applicable code provisions on a regular basis to ensure the overall effectiveness of consumer codes in achieving their objectives, which include—

(a) complaints monitoring;

(b) routine verification of code compliance by Licensees ; and

(c) identification of other consumer code issues.

(2) The Commission will publish quarterly progress reports to assist it in its ongoing monitoring and review of consumer codes and related issues. The progress reports will include—

(a) identified breaches of applicable code provisions, and any remedial actions taken;

(b) recurring complaints and actions taken to address these;

(c) statistics on complaints and their resolution ; and

(d) steps taken by Licensees in the development of in-house compliance systems

(3) The Commission’s annual report will contain a summary of all progress reports or the relevant year.

34. (1) Complaints about failure to comply with this Code or any other applicable consumer code will arise in two broad categories: Consumer complaints and “Industry” complaints.

(2) The Commission shall administer appropriate and impartial processes for the investigation and resolution of both Consumer and Industry complaints.

(3) In the event the Commission finds that a complaint does not fall within its jurisdiction, the Commission will refer the matter to the appropriate body.

35. All complaints by Consumers will first be lodged and dealt with by the relevant Licensee in accordance with Part VII of this Code. Where a Consumer lodges a complaint with the Commission and does not initially contact the Licensee, the Commission will forward the complaint to the Licensee for resolution in accordance with Part VII of this General Code.

36.(1) Industry complaints are those made by one Licensee against another for an alleged breach of a consumer code. Industry complaints will also include complaints by a group representing consumer interests against a Licensee.

(2) All Industry complaints will be lodged directly with the Commission. Where an Industry complaint is lodged with a Licensee, without evidence that the complaint has been lodged with the Commission as well, the Licensee shall forward a copy of the complaint to the Commission without delay, and will notify the complainant that its further contact regarding the complaint should be with the Commission and not the Licensee.

37. (1) The Commission will oversee compliance with and administration of the Code and any other applicable consumer codes.

(2) The Commission will analyze and investigate complaints in order to determine whether there has been a breach of the applicable code. In the event the Commission finds that there has been a breach, it will consider the following factors in arriving at a decision on the remedial actions or penalties to be imposed:

(a) seriousness of the breach ;

(b) past conduct of the Licensee with respect to compliance with the code ;

(c) representations made by the Licensee with regards to the breach and related circumstances ; and

(d) any compensation offered by the Licensee to affected Consumers for the breach.

(3) The monitoring and enforcement of consumer codes will be exercised in accordance with the Nigerian Communication’s (Enforcement Processes, etc.) Regulations 2005. With respect to any penalties for contravention of applicable code provisions, the Commission will be guided by the considerations set out in Chapter IV (“Administrative Fines”) of those regulations.

(4) The Commission may also issue a caution notice to a Licensee with no record of past problems, identifying remedial measures to be undertaken but imposing no other penalties or sanctions.

(5) Continuing or repeated breaches of this Code or any other applicable consumer code shall be reviewed by the Commission to determine if they constitute an offence under the Act, including as a breach of applicable license conditions.

(6) Unless otherwise specifically identified by the Commission, the parties to a complaint shall be responsible for their own costs or expenses associated with the complaint. The Commission shall also identify any circumstances in which any costs or charges will be payable to the Commission in connection with its involvement in the resolution of any complaint, prior to a party incurring the payment obligation.

38. In the event that a decision by the Commission is not accepted by a party to the decision, that party will have the right to challenge the decision pursuant to Sections 86 to 88 of the Act, in accordance with the practices and procedures described in those sections.

39. Information disclosed in the course of any complaint or compliance proceeding under this Code or other applicable consumer code may be protected as confidential information as provided under the Act, including Sections 59, 60 and 86(3) of the Act.