Qatar’s efforts at solving consumer complaints pertaining to telecoms services seem to have shown results with ictQATAR being able to dispose of 99% of these within a timeframe. The Consumer Affairs Department at ictQATAR, the country’s supreme council for information and communication technology, receives “wide range” of complaints on disconnections, delay in service provisions, refunds, incorrect billing, slow Internet, weak broadband services, services not activated or mistakenly disconnected, high roaming charges, slow provisioning of services, double debiting, replenishment failures or failure to activate SIM cards. “Ninety-nine per cent of the complaints have been resolved to date,” ictQATAR said on its website. To safeguard consumer interest, which is central to ictQATAR’s efforts, following the opening up of the country’s telecoms sector, a dedicated hotline for consumer has been set up. The round-the-clock facility can be reached on ‘103’. The hotline is accessible in both Arabic and English and will help streamline the complaint process, providing the consumer with a clear ticketing and tracking system to follow-up their issue through to resolution. But ictQATAR reminded consumers that they call the hotline for help only after trying to resolve any issue with their service provider concerned – Qtel or Vodafone as the case may be. Upon calling the number, consumers will have the choice of lodging their complaint in Arabic or English. The complaint will be immediately filed and the consumer will receive a dedicated tracking number to follow-up on the complaint through the resolution process. Within one working day, the consumer will receive a follow-up call from a consumer protection agent to obtain all the necessary information to investigate and resolve the complaint. Depending on the complaint, a final resolution may take up to 10 days to resolve, however most complaints are investigated and resolved within seven working days. On why consumers try to resolve complaints with their service provider first, ictQATAR said: “It is the obligation of licensed service providers in Qatar to provide quality customer service and resolve customer complaints in a reasonable and mutually acceptable timeframe, which is currently set as 30 days. ictQATAR only intervenes when the service providers fail to meet their obligations, a complaint is urgent or the consumer is a special needs customer. “The service providers generally have the information and means to resolve customer complaints, whereas ictQATAR will need to launch an investigation to understand the complaint and work to resolve it. Direct resolution with the service provider therefore generally produces a more timely and efficient result. However, when a satisfactory resolution is not achieved, consumers have the power to lodge a formal complaint with ictQATAR for investigation and final resolution.” “The introduction of competition into Qatar’s telecoms market has brought significant benefits to the consumers including reduced prices, more innovative offerings, improved customer service and improved quality of service,” ictQATAR said. While Qatar and all countries in the region still lag behind most OECD countries in terms of price and quality of service, progress is being made. Also, compared to its regional peers, Qatar has very “competitive” prices in both mobile and fixed voice services, it said. According to ictQATAR, the quality of telecommunications service, especially in mobile service, has improved substantially in the country since the introduction of competition. ictQATAR said it recognises there is “still much progress” to be made, especially in fixed services. ictQATAR regularly monitors the Quality of Service (QoS) from licensed service providers across numerous parameters and these reports will be published on ictQATAR’s website.