Consumer code of practice

Introduction

Affirmation of Customer’s Legal Rights.

Nothing in this Code of Practice detracts from a Customer’s statutory or common law rights in his relationship with Vodacom, nor does anything herein constitute or form part of any contract between Vodacom and the Customer.

Vodacom’s Customer Mandate

Vodacom strongly believes and focus on meeting and exceeding established customer satisfaction standards and thus, pledged itself to responding to the needs of Customers in a professional and proactive manner.

Objectives of the Code of Practice

The Code of Practice is a detailed and practical expression of the spirit of our Customer Mandate as outlined in Section 1.2 above. It highlights the strategies and policies which have been adopted by Vodacom to ensure that its Customers derive optimal benefits from its services. These policies have been built into subheads.

Quality of Service

Vodacom shall comply with the Quality of Service standards which may be developed for the industry by the Nigerian Communications Commission. This is however without prejudice to our commitment to delivering service of the very highest quality to its Customers.

Provision of Information to Consumers

General Information

Vodacom is committed to providing complete, accurate, and up-to-date information on its current products and services, as well as tariffs and rates where applicable. Such information will be provided free of charge to our customers and accessible through any of; all Vodacom shops, dealer and franchise outlets where our products are made available to the public, by electronic mail to CSOCNG@vodacom.com, by telephone to 01 7000700, on website at www.vodacom.com.ng, by surface mail addressed to; The Executive Head; Business Development, Vodacom Business, 3A, Aja Nwachukwu Close, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Information on tariff changes Requiring Customer Participation

Telecommunications service tariffs are subject to regulation by the NCC. Where any law or regulation then in force requires the input of customers before tariffs are changed, Vodacom will provide its customers with sufficient information to enable them participate as required. Therefore, Vodacom will inform prospective customers if there is any contractual warranty relating to products (in the case of equipment purchase) supplied for use in connection with a service offered by us. In such a case, the customer will be informed of a) the specific maintenance services available, b)Procedure for obtaining warranty service including c) how and where to obtain warranty service, if needed.

Information Regarding Contract

Vodacom will ensure that prospective customers receive full information on the terms and conditions applicable to the service before service is provided.

Advertising and Representation of Services

Vodacom is fully committed to comply with the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON)’s Code of Advertising Practice, NCC Regulations, and applicable Rules, Regulations and/or Guidelines made by the Consumer Protection Council.

Protection of Consumer Information

Vodacom will treat all consumer information or personal data that we obtain on our customers as confidential. We shall only use such information for the improvement of our services and shall ensure that any of our business partners to whom the information is provided treats it with the same high level of confidentiality. Therefore, Vodacom undertakes to abide by the strictest  standards  of Confidentiality with respect to the disclosure of such information and states herein that such consumer information shall only be made available in accordance with the provisions of relevant legislations and with the laid down processes and procedures outlined below:

a. All external requests for subscriber information shall be addressed to The Executive Head: Legal and Regulatory Services Vodacom Business, 3A, Aja Nwachukwu Close, Ikoyi, Lagos. This office shall verify such request and confirm that it is in strict compliance with the NCC Enforcements Regulations of 2004. In particular every request must be in writing from a relevant authority and be signed by an officer of the Nigerian Police Force not below the substantive rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or its equivalent in any of the relevant authorities

b. Vodacom through its Fraud Management Team (FMT) shall treat all requests routed to it through the aforementioned office. The FMT shall retrieve the subscribers‟ data and forward same to the Regulatory Affairs Directorate within 5 working days of receipt of the request by the FMT. The FMT shall inform the Directorate of any technical reason or other reasons if it is unable to provide the requested information.

c. Where a customer’s information is to be disclosed to third parties (other than statutory, legal, regulatory or law enforcement agencies), Vodacom will inform customers at the point of collection of such information that the information being collected may be shared with third parties, and that the customer shall at all times be entitled to exercise an option to request Vodacom not to share the said information with such third parties, or to limit the nature of information that Vodacom may share with the third party

d. Vodacom shall take all necessary steps within its ability to ensure that consumer information collected, maintained or used shall be accurate, relevant and current for the purpose for which it is required. Vodacom shall establish processes to identify out of date information and verify information collected and maintained.

Consumer Billing, Charging, Collection and Credit Practices

This section describes Vodacom’s Customer billing, charging, collection and credit practices in line with the Nigerian Communication Commission’s (NCC) General Consumer Code of Practice. Vodacom’s policy on Customer billing, charging, collection and credit practices covers the following areas;

a. Assurance of    billing    availability,    accuracy,    timeliness    & completeness.

b. Standard practice for handling Customer bills and charges

c. Processes guiding the bill delivery & retention, billing period and delayed bills.

d. Guidelines for billing enquiries, Customer complaints, penalties for non-payment of bills.

e. All billing enquiries shall be directed to the Accounts Receivables Manager or Vodacom’s Customer Account Manager either in writing or via telephone on 01 7007195; 01 7000700 or email addresses stated on the relevant invoice.

f. Customer shall not be charged for bills or billing related information, except where the Customer requests information not provided under the NCC General Code of Practice or requests for bills or a record of related charges more than 12 months old. Provided always that where a Customer has not paid all or part of a bill for services provided, any measure taken by Vodacom shall be proportionate and not unduly discriminatory, and be accompanied by appropriate warning to the Customer in advance of any resulting service interruption or disconnection as well as Confine any service interruption or disconnection to the service(s) concerned, as far as technically feasible.

g. “Appropriate warning” means a notice in writing, giving the customer notice of service interruption or disconnection delivered via email, or by letter addressed to the customer at his last known address. The notice shall also confirm the time frame within which the customer is to make payment of the outstanding amount; such time frame not being less than the time frame stated in the customer’s service contract with Vodacom in accordance with agreed compensation table in the relevant Service Level Agreement.

Complaints Handling Procedures

a. To ensure that Information on Vodacom’s complaint processes is provided in various media as well as a dispute resolution process in place, including the right of the Customer to refer any complaint to the NCC if dissatisfied with the resolution of the complaint by Vodacom.

b. This provision shall hold for all queries where internal competencies abound for resolution. Where the resolution of a query is dependent on the input of a third party service provider (e.g. network element, value added service or service provisioning interfaces), resolution would be dependent on Service Level Agreements (SLAs) agreed with service provider but however subject to the timelines which are provided by the Commission in its Quality of Service Regulations.

c. Where a Customer is not satisfied with the resolution process provided by Vodacom he/she is free to escalate his/her complaints to The Executive Head; Business Development or to the Managing Director. Upon exhaustion of all aforementioned options to resolve complaint(s) and a subscriber is still not satisfied within 60 days, such subscriber is at liberty to escalate his grievance(s) to the Nigerian Communications Commission.

d. Where a subscriber who is required to present themselves physically at a Vodacom Customer care center or Strategic Distribution Partner help desk is unable to do so, a letter of authorization and photocopy of identification to an authorized person will suffice. For other special needs and physically impaired subscribers, Vodacom Contact Centers, and Web Channels are optimized to meet their needs through speech and visual support.

e. Refunds on claims are made in accordance with Customer Service Level Agreements not later than 24 hours after due investigation and verification processes carried out to ascertain such claims are concluded.

f. All Customers who have exhausted the Vodacom dispute resolution mechanism and are still dissatisfied with the outcome may apply to the NCC for an arbitration of the matter in dispute and shall comply strictly with the provisions of the aforementioned Guidelines. Provided, that such an aggrieved Customer will however be required to indicate his preferred avenue for the resolution of the dispute.

g. Complaints by trade partners shall be resolved in accordance with the provisions of the trade or other agreement between Vodacom and the concerned trade partner. Such complaints shall be resolved in accordance with the provisions of the relevant statutory and regulatory instruments (including, but not limited to the Competition Practices Regulations for the time being in force).

h.  Vodacom realizes that the availability of a telephone is critical to successful emergency management. Vodacom’s has provided Emergency telephone lines which its subscribers can access free of charge. These lines are connected to a Centre which operates 24 hours a day with capabilities to connect subscriber to any of the following public emergency services:

  • Police service
  • Ambulance services
  • Fire Brigade Services

i. Vodacom will provide an access number to its customers for the provision of Directory Information Services and enquiries. A reasonable fee will however be charged for such services. The Directory Information Services Scheme will provide access to Directory Information on Vodacom service subscribers who elect to have such information about them to be so listed.

j. Consistent with its commitment to ensure full compliance with all statutory and regulatory instruments, Vodacom shall extend full co-operation to the Nigerian Communications Commission in its investigation activities pursuant to Part 3 of Chapter V and other relevant provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act and other instruments in that regard.

Service Levels and Compensation Plan

a. The following are the average time lines for the resolution of customer queries. As noted above, these time frames may vary depending on the circumstances of each complaint:

  • Fault in VODACOM Facility provided by automatic switching [90] Seconds.
  • Fault in VODACOM Facility provided by manual patching: [45] Minutes.
  • Fault requiring VODACOM Facility replacement with on-site spare equipment: [120] minutes during office hours [240 – 360] minutes at other times.

b. Upon resolution of a complaint, Vodacom shall reimburse the Customer in accordance with agreed compensation table in the relevant Service Level Agreement;

Achieved Availability Discount on Monthly Circuit Charge
Where Achieved Availability is less than Target Service Availability by 1% 1%
Where Achieved Availability is less than Target Service Availability by 2.0% 2%
Where Achieved Availability is less than Target Service Availability by 3.0% 3%
Where Achieved Availability is less than Target Service Availability by 4.0% 4%
Where Achieved Availability is less than Target Service Availability by 5.0% 5%

c. The following are the average time lines for the resolution of customer queries requiring travel to Customer remote sites. As noted above, these time frames may vary depending on the circumstances of each complaint.

  • Mean time to respond (reach site) for faults requiring on site attention shall be as detailed in the MTTR Table Below;
SITES BY CITIES TIME TO SITE
Kaduna, Jos, Benin, Sapele, Oshogbo, Warri, Akure, Abeokuta, Ondo, Onitsha, Owerri, Asaba, Nnewi, Awka, Enugu, Umuahia,  Eket, Bonny, Abakaliki, Calabar, Ikom, Sapele, Uyo, Ughelli, Nsukka,Gboko, Oturkpo, Orlu, Asaba, Mbaise, Agbor, Ikot Ekpene, Ilesha, Ijebu Ode, Ogbomoso, Saki, Abeokuta, Ekpoma, Akure, Bida, Ore, Kotangora, Potiskum, Gombe,       12  hours
Hadejia, Maiduguri, Kano, Uromi, Auchi, Gusau, Jalingo,   Minna, Funtua, Birnin-Kebbi, Katsina, Yola, Gombe, Lafia, Argungu, Ikot Abasi, Ammamosa, Lapai, Sokoto,Mubi, Azare, Wukari, Kafanchan, Bauchi       24 hours
Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and any other cities with Vodacom major POP        4 hours
Ibadan, Aba, Zaria, Ahaoda, Eleme, Ota, Shagamu, Suleja,        6 hours
  • This will not be calculated where faults are reported to include any hours on any day where the fault is reported later than 3:00pm on a work day or 12 noon on a work free day, and for sites in Lagos, PH and Abuja not later than 4:00pm on workdays and 2:pm on a work free day.

Consumer Obligations

Vodacom will at all times ensure full compliance with the responsibilities set out above.

a. To enable us provide the highest quality of service to our customers, Vodacom will request its esteemed customers to faithfully comply with relevant statutory and regulatory instruments governing the use of telecommunications facilities. For the purpose of this Code of Consumer Practice, the following obligations have been highlighted by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

b. Customers are bound by Vodacom’s terms of service which they have signed and returned to Vodacom or which they have clearly accepted, either by accepting the terms of service or by receiving service after its terms have been provided to the customer.

c. Customers will provide Vodacom or its authorized representatives, without charge, access to premises, equipment or facilities as reasonably required for any provisioning or maintenance of the services, equipment or facilities.

d. Customers shall not use any equipment or related facilities provided by Vodacom for reasons other than those related to normal service, and shall not do anything that interferes with the functioning of such equipment or facilities, without prior written authorization from Vodacom. Consumers shall be responsible for any loss of or damage to equipment or facilities that result from actions contrary to their service terms or this Code.

e. Equipment owned by Vodacom and connected to a telecommunications network may not be moved to a location or address other than the location or address where service was installed, without prior written authorization from Vodacom. This restriction shall not apply to any equipment that is accompanied by operating instructions indicating that it may be disconnected and reconnected as part of its normal use.

f. Modification or attachment of any unauthorized device to Vodacom’s equipment or facilities is prohibited without prior written authorization from Vodacom.

g. The installation of any equipment or device that interferes in any way with the normal operation of a telecommunications service, including any equipment or device that intercepts or assists in intercepting or receiving any service offered by Vodacom requires special authorization from the NCC. Installation of such equipment by or on behalf of any customer without the necessary authorization is prohibited. Customers are not authorized to re-sell any service provided by Vodacom without its formal authorization, and (in the case of services requiring licensing authorization of the NCC), except such licensing authorization is first received.

h. Customers shall not misuse public telecommunications services, including by (a) dishonestly obtaining telecommunications services; or (b) possessing or supplying equipment that may be used to obtain such services dishonestly or fraudulently; or (c) using services to send messages that are obscene, threatening or otherwise contrary to applicable laws or regulation.

i. The NCC forbids the act of “dishonest churning”, which takes place when a customer accumulates payment arrears with one service provider then switches service to another provider without settling payment with the previous provider. Customers are therefore required to settle all valid payment arrears before switching to another service provider. To this end, service providers are permitted to investigate if a person seeking their services has settled with his or her previous supplier, before having any obligation to provide service to that person.