Singapore's new two-stage scheme to resolve customer disputes with telcos

Consumers and telcos will have to go through processes of mediation and settlement.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) launched a public consultation for its proposed framework for the Telecommunication and Subscription TV Mediation-Adjudication Scheme.

According to a press release, the scheme, initially unveiled in 2016, aims to introduce an alternative dispute resolution scheme for telecommunication and media services for consumers and small businesses, called eligible customers.

IMDA is proposing a two-stage process for the scheme composed of mediation and, if necessary, adjudication.

In the mediation stage, where the disputing parties agree on a resolution, the terms of settlement for the dispute will be recorded in a written agreement that is binding on both parties.

In the adjudication stage, the adjudicated decision will be final and binding on the service provider if the eligible customer accepts it.

However, the eligible customers should be the first to approach their service providers before turning to the alternative dispute resolution body.

IMDA is also proposing to require telecommunication and media service providers to participate in the scheme. Eligible customers, however, will have the flexibility to resolve their disputes through the Scheme or through other avenues such as the Small Claims Tribunal.

The scheme will also seek to address common disputes that are known to be "consumer pain-points," such as disputes on billing or service quality, that can usually be resolved through service recovery efforts, or compensated in kind or monetary terms.

In terms of funding, the IMDA proposed that the eligible customer and service provider cover 10% and 90% of the case fees, respectively.

The fees for eligible customers are expected to start from $10 and $50 for mediation and adjudication, respectively.

The public consultation closes on 28 February 2018 and is available on the IMDA website.

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