Singapore's IMDA unveils scheme to further protect telco consumers

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The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has begun reaching out to the public to garner views on its proposed framework for the Telecommunication and Subscription TV Mediation-Adjudication Scheme.

In a statement, IMDA said the scheme introduces an alternative dispute resolution scheme for telecommunication and media services.

"The Scheme aims to provide an alternative avenue for consumers and small businesses to resolve disputes with telecommunication and media service providers in a fair, affordable, and effective manner while incentivising faster resolution by the service providers," IMDA said.

The said scheme will be composed of two stages: mediation and adjudication. IMDA explained that in the mediation stage, the terms of settlement for dispute will be recorded in a written agreement that is binding on both parties.

On the other hand, the adjudication stage makes a decision final and binding on the service provider provided that the customer accepts it.

To recall, IMDA first proposed the concept in August 2016 as part of the public consultation on amendments to the IMDA Act and Telecommunications Act. It was originally planned to supplement existing consumer protection policies and dispute resolution strategies in order to meet the rising public demand for better customer care.

Given that the scheme is intended to supplement and not replace existing complaint channels, the customers will be the ones to first approach their respective service providers to resolve any disputes before escalating unresolved disputes to the alternative dispute resolution body appointed by IMDA.

In order to ensure compliance, IMDA plans to make it mandatory for certain telco and media service providers to participate in the scheme.

In terms of funding the scheme, IMDA is proposing for it to be self-sustainable, employing a co-payment model by the two parties.

"It is proposed that the Eligible Customer and service provider cover 10% and 90% of the case fees respectively. This co-payment model is common among other similar local schemes to allow the appointed alternative dispute resolution body to cover costs and sustain its operations," IMDA said.

IMDA will be accepting views, opinions, and suggestions regarding the proposed scheme until February 28, 2018.