Nigeria consumer agency moves against Multichoice, orders compensation for users

The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) on Monday ordered MultiChoice Nigeria to compensate its subscribers and henceforth provide them toll-free lines for their complaints.

MultiChoice Nigeria Limited is Nigeria‘s biggest provider of Digital Satellite Broadcast Television (DStv) service.

CPC’s Deputy Director of Public Relations, Abiodun Obimuyiwa, said in Abuja that the order followed an extensive investigation over alleged violation of consumers’ rights by the company.

Following CPC’s order in line with the Order of Council of February 16, 2016, MultiChoice Nigeria said it confirmed its commitment to continue its engagement with the CPC to resolve the matter in the best interests of DStv subscribers.

Mr. Obimuyiwa said the CPC had ordered MultiChoice to suspend its service when consumers were away, while releasing free-to-air channels even when subscription had expired and compensate consumers for lost viewing time.

The council also ordered the cable television company to introduce local toll-free lines and reasonable equitable spread of popular sports channels, among others.

In addition, the CPC said MultiChoice would, for 18 months from the date of the orders, subject its processes to the Council’s inspection to ensure compliance with the directives contained in the orders.

The Council said it had observed that the company’s billing system, which is “not contemporaneous with the provision of service”, was not in the best interest of consumers.

It also ordered the company to, within 90 days, provide compensation to all subscribers, considering that many of them have, over time, lost legitimate and paid-viewing time by its misconduct.

Such compensation, the CPC added, included not restoring service contemporaneously after payment as well as other instances of service disruptions.

“The company was directed to, within 180 days, adopt a technology that supports suspension of service when subscribers are unable to enjoy their service on account of being away for a limited period of time,” the CPC said.

It explained that such request for suspension of service could be done between seven to 14 days and not more than twice in a year with a 72-hour notice to MultiChoice Nigeria.

On non-availability of popular channels in certain bouquets, the CPC ordered the firm to, within 90 days, ensure reasonably equitable spread of popular sports and other channels.

The Managing Director of MultiChoice Nigeria, John Ugbe, said the cable TV company valued the order from the CPC and would do all within powers to comply.

“The business and management value the input it has received from the CPC in order to improve the DStv customer experience. We would, especially like to thank the DG and the CPC investigating team for the professional manner in which they conducted the investigation and for their willingness and availability to meet with us to engage on the issues” he said.

Mr. Ugbe noted that, “unlike free-to-air operators, pay television businesses were dependent on subscriptions, adding that if the company lost subscribers, it would negatively impacts its revenue and ultimately the sustainability of its business.

“It is therefore in our best interest to ensure that customer complaints are attended to and all efforts made to resolve queries in the interests of the subscriber.

“We wish to assure subscribers of our commitment to continue to co-operate fully with the CPC on the Order of Council, and will endeavour by all means to meet the order and deadlines, where possible,” he said.

The Council’s Director-General, Dupe Atoki, expressed optimism that compliance with these reforms would bring about a new dawn for Nigerian consumers.

Mrs. Atoki said the CPC would henceforth allow consumers to enjoy value for money in their engagement with the company.

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