The Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) is mandated by the Postal and Telecommunication Act (Chap 12.05) to promote the interests of consumers, purchasers and other users of postal and telecommunication services and telecommunication apparatus.
A right is a permission to do something or an entitlement to a specific service or treatment from others.
Consumers of Postal and electronic communication services have the following rights and responsibilities:
1.The Right to Choice:
To freely select their service providers, as well as products and services, from a variety of offerings.
2.The Right to disclosure:
To access transparent, up-to-date information about prices, services offered, terms and conditions for available or proposed services and products. Consumers should be provided with a customer contract indicating as a minimum, details of the name and address of the service provider; the services offered; their quality and installation; service support; price and tariff structure; the duration of the contract and arrangements for contract renewal and/or termination; compensation schemes; arrangements for recovery of debt; arrangements for handling complaints and disputes; and circumstances under which the contract may be terminated
3. The Right to Access High Quality Service:
To access high quality, reliable service from both service providers and the Regulator. Service Providers must provide high quality services and must publish information about initial supply times, fault rates and repair times as well as put technical and organizational measures in place to guarantee the integrity and security of their networks and services. Regulators should set and enforce quality of service standards. Consumers are entitled to guaranteed access to emergency calling services.
4. The Right to Accurate Bills:
To be availed with clear, accurate and understandable bills for products they subscribe to. Charges should correspond to the service demanded by the consumer, who should not be made to pay for ancillary services they do not need. All Charges should be in accordance with the terms and conditions they have agreed to. Consumers have a right to a non-itemized bill and, where itemized bills are provided, these should be in accordance with the consumer’s right to privacy
5. The Right to Privacy:
To enjoy lawful personal privacy and protection against unauthorized use of personal information. This includes confidentiality of electronic communications, prohibition of unsolicited marketing material; the right not to be listed in a telephone directory and/or for a consumer’s telephone number to be given to a third party as well as the right not to have automatic call-backs.
6. The Right to Protection Against Market Abuse:
To be protected from market abuse such as excessive pricing, discriminatory pricing, contractual lock-ins, unfair trade practises including false and misleading advertising as well as any form of anti-competitive behaviour. Measures for non-payment of bills should be proportionate and non-discriminatory, with the consumer given prior notice of termination or interruption of service. Prior to disconnection, consumers have the right to a reduced service that allows them to make emergency calls.
7. The Right to a Responsive Regulatory Authority:
To be represented by a responsive regulatory Authority that is continuously and proactively looking out for their interests, taking into account their needs, expectations, preferences and values.
8. The Right to Consumer Education and Awareness:
To acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident and intelligent choices about goods and services while being aware of basic consumer rights.
9. The Right to Safety:
To be protected against products, equipment and production processes that are hazardous to health or dangerous to life of present and future generations as well as guaranteed access to emergency calling services.
10. The Right to be Heard:
To have assurance that government will take full cognizance of all the concerns expressed by consumers, and act with empathy through statutes and simple and expeditious administrativeprocedures. Consumers have a right to actively participate in the formulation and implementation of government policy, regulations as well as the development and delivery of products and services that they use.
11. The Right to Complain and Redress:
To have access a fair and transparent complaint process whereby all service providers must establish and publish procedures for handling complaints. Consumers have a right to receive fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, service failure or interruption, inferior or unsatisfactory services. They also have a right to exercise out-of-court procedures for the settlement of disputes. Such processes must be simple, transparent, and free to consumers, and must allow for a fair and speedy settlement.
12.The Right to End/Change A Contract:
Consumers have a right to cancel a contract within reasonably short periods not exceeding three days from date of signing contract. Cancellation provisions must be clearly indicated in all contracts.
A responsibility is the ability or power to act or decide on one’s own, without supervision.
Consumers of Postal and electronic communication services have the following responsibilities:
- Critical awareness – consumers must be aware and be more questioning about the provision of services as well as the quality and variety of goods and services on offer. They should only enter into contracts with bona fide service providers and should familiarize with and honour their obligations under any contract entered into with a product supplier or service provider. Consumers should also make reasonable decisions in exercising their right of choice; understand and abide by any safety or security requirements pertaining to the use of communications systems and services.
- Social responsibility – consumers must act with social responsibility, concern and sensitivity to the impact of their actions on other citizens, in particular, in relation to disadvantaged groups in the community and in relation to the economic and social realties obtaining. They should report any violation of the Postal and Telecommunication Act and any regulations administered through the Act. Consumers should not misuse or cause damage to Postal and Telecommunications infrastructure. They should use communications systems and services in the appropriate manner, without abusing them.
- Environmental Responsibility – Consumers should be highly sensitive to the impact of their actions on the physical environment, which must be aimed at fostering conservation of the environment to ensure a high level of safety and quality of life for present and future generations.
- Involvement or action – consumers must assert themselves and act to ensure that
they get fair deals. They should actively participate in all forums to do with policy formulation and legislation for the services they use.
- Solidarity – Consumers have the responsibility to organise themselves as consumers through the formation of consumer/citizen groups in order to develop the strength and influence to promote and protect their interests.