Seek more information on new technologies

11/12/2013 16:25

The Consumer Council of Fiji is urging consumers to seek more information and read carefully about new products and services in the market.

This is particularly in the case of information communication technology (ICT) sector where there is a high turnover of products and services with new gadgets and platforms such as 4G networks being introduced to consumers at a rapid pace.

In regards to new 4G internet service the Council is urging consumers to ask three main questions to use this service:

  1. Do I have a 4G handset or modem or is my current handset 4G compatible?
  2.  Do I have a 4G compatible sim card?
  3. Do I live or work in 4G coverage areas?

These are very important questions a consumer needs to ask him/herself before buying handsets or subscribing to this service. These questions are not restricted to just one service provider but to all.

The Council is aware that mobile phones and the internet are increasingly seen as essential requirements for the access to and exchange of information by consumers. It is also aware that during these festive seasons many consumers would be buying handsets, tablets and other communication gadgets as gifts to love ones or to update their own. The festive shopping hype may distract consumers from asking important questions regarding the product they are buying, so we are urging caution. Consumers may end up disappointed when their brand new mobile may not work properly because of limited network coverage where they live or their phone is locked to only one network.

The Council urges consumers to ask questions from their handset dealers or from the network operators regarding coverage area, handset/SIM compatibility, network locking, etc. They should also read carefully the terms and conditions in brochures, information booklets, operator websites and so forth. As a rule, consumers should shop around for the best deals as our surveys show that prices vary between different handset dealers. At the same, we are asking handset dealers and mobile operators and their staff to disclose all necessary information to consumers regarding mobile phones and other gadgets on sale during the festive season.

Meanwhile, the Council is stepping up its monitoring and surveillance work on the ICT sector, particularly, as consumer advocates around the world look forward to the 2014 World Consumer Rights Days based on the theme- Consumer Rights in the Digital Age. It will give opportunity to consumer organizations like CCF to raise awareness and highlight ICT issues facing consumers, today. These include data privacy to unclear or unfair contract terms for cell phones or the internet to digital locks that stop consumers using products on different devices.

Many of these issues are already being addressed in Consumers International's (CI) program on Consumers in the Digital Age but WCRD 2014 will also give CI members the opportunity to raise other digital consumer rights issues that they have been campaigning about in their own countries.