‘Call for Consumer Justice by Sky Pacific Customers’

13/04/2017 16:04

‘Call for Consumer Justice by Sky Pacific Customers’

The Consumer Council of Fiji is very disappointed with Digicel’s Sky Pacific for using its monopoly position in pay TV services to continuously victimise its customers who clear their bills on time.

The Council is calling on Sky Pacific, under its new management, to start treating its customers’ concerns with some seriousness. When consumers pay their bills on or before deadlines at any of the nominated agencies, this should be honoured and not subject of disconnection of service because the provider hasn’t reconciled its payment on real time.

The Council’s call comes after receiving complaints from consumers whose Sky Pacific services were disconnected despite paying their bills on the due date or well before due date through Sky Pacific’s third party billing agents. Third party payments for Sky Pacific can be made at MH, Post Fiji and through BSP, Westpac and ANZ Banks.

The Council is also calling for better internal synchronization of the billing system so when payments are made at third party outlets and Digicel Retail Outlets, it is updated to the main system immediately.

If that is not possible then Digicel should consider introducing a “buffer period” for its Sky Pacific subscribers as they did for Unwired, which confirms on their website a ‘5 day grace period’ from the date the bill is due.

A ‘buffer period’ will cater for the late updating of payments from third parties will allow Sky Pacific to sort out its internal arrangements with third party billing companies without treating customers unfairly. It will also assist in reconciling payments so that correct notifications are then made to customers, rather than resorting to immediate disconnection of service, even though payments was made on time.

Despite previous calls made to Sky Pacific in 2016, the same complaints against Sky Pacific continue to be brought to the Council’s attention. As recently as January 3, 2017, a customer who had paid $49.95 on 3/1/17 at Digicel Lautoka outlet had her services disconnected on 4/1/17. Customer tried contacting Digicel but calls remained unanswered. Through Councils assistance, her services were restored after 5 days.

It is interesting to note that Digicel’s Sky Pacific has clearly stated on the website that delay in posting of latest subscription payment can lead to disconnection. From the above case, it is also clear that payments made at Digicel’s own Lautoka outlet was not updated which led to disconnection. Why should consumers be penalized for Digicels inefficiencies if Digicel cannot update its own system leave aside updating payments made at third party outlets?

Another complaint received by the Council alleged that Digicel customer-care-debt-collection officers, without checking the system started making harassing calls to pay up. The Council is suggesting that Digicel/Sky Pacific should update payments on their system on time and officers check the system before making those harassing calls.

The Council fails to understand why other service providers (including Digicel’s very own Unwired) can provide a buffer period, when it involves third parties – than why can’t Sky Pacific do the same? Maybe for some unknown reason Sky Pacific is resorting to such ways to collect money.

Digicel should just not ask for more money from consumers through unfair terms. This is not the first time Council has received complaints against Sky Pacific services. Being a monopoly gives Sky Pacific the advantage of doing things its way without taking into account consumer grievances.