Monday, August 30, 2010

Hong Kong - Regulator has introduced measures to reduce the surge in "bill shock" arising from smartphone usage

[ofta] The Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) today (10 August 2010) published on its website measures that have been implemented by individual mobile operators to prevent mobile 'bill shock'.

These measures include allowing customers to opt-out of individual services; setting a charge ceiling; setting a usage cap for all kinds of usage-based mobile services; and alerting customers through short messages as their pre-determined usage threshold is reached.

" 'Bill shock' usually refers to the shock customers experience when they receive unexpectedly high mobile bill charges. Alongside with the increasing popularity of smart phones and advance mobile devices, there has been an upsurge in the number of bill shock complaints related to mobile data services," a spokesperson of OFTA said.

In the first half of this year, OFTA has received a total of 535 complaints relating to mobile data services (as compared with 337 cases in the whole of 2009). Billing disputes accounted for 65% of these complaints. In some cases, the bill shock was caused by unintentional or inadvertent use of mobile data services.

"It is expected that mobile bill shock would become the single most important contributor to the overall increase in the number of consumer complaints received by OFTA in the whole of 2010," forecast the spokesperson.

"Concerned with the surging number of complaints, OFTA has urged all mobile operators to adopt measures to help address the problem. We are encouraged to note that not only have majority of the mobile operators responded positively to OFTA's appeal, in implementing in the past weeks a combination of our proposed measures to prevent bill shock, they have also undertaken to continue to enhance their initiatives. There is indeed room for enhancement for individual operator. We will continue our efforts in assisting mobile operators to improve their existing measures and introduce new measures to prevent bill shock," continued the spokesperson.

"To enhance consumer knowledge and increase the transparency of mobile market information, so as to assist consumers in making more informed decisions on services that best suit their needs, we will start publishing, as from August 2010 onwards, on our website measures implemented by each mobile operator to address mobile bill shock. We will update the information periodically upon advice from operators on enhanced/new initiatives they have taken on board," the spokesperson said.

The measures which individual mobile operators have put in place to prevent bill shock can be downloaded from OFTA's webpage:

In parallel, OFTA will continue to organise consumer education activities including seminars and publish consumer alerts/advices on magazines and newspapers to enhance consumer awareness and knowledge of different aspects of the mobile services.

Publication of Measures Implemented by Mobile Operators to Prevent Mobile Bill Shock

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