Sat, Apr 14, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Mobile phone calls still too expensive: watchdog

HIGH TARIFFS:Although the top three telecoms firms have reduced their fees for three years in a row, charges are still higher than most of the countries in the region

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The average mobile phone call charges of the top three telecommunications firms in Taiwan are only slightly lower than those in Japan, but higher than those in Singapore, China and Hong Kong, the Consumers’ Foundation said yesterday.

The foundation said that although the National Communications Commission (NCC) announced last month that the nation’s top five telecoms firms would reduce their mobile phone call charges, the average cut of 3.58 percent was still insufficient to assuage the financial burden of users.

Consumers’ Foundation chairperson Joann Su (蘇錦霞) said that while telecoms operators had reduced their fees three years in a row, the reductions were too small.

Consumers’ Foundation secretary-general Chen Chih-yi (陳智義) said the foundation conducted a survey last month and this month on the mobile phone call charges of the top three operators — Chunghwa Telecom Co, Taiwan Mobile Co and Far EasTone Telecommunications Co.

Compared with call charges by the top companies in neighboring countries, regardless of which fee plan was chosen or whether the calls were made to users of the same service provider or a different provider, the rates charged were many times higher than those in Singapore, China and Hong Kong, Chen said, adding that one of the cheapest rates in Taiwan was 18 times the rate of a plan in Hong Kong.

NCC statistics showed that there were 2.086 million 3G mobile phone users last year in Taiwan, Su said, as she urged the commission to investigate whether telecoms companies were still charging too much for mobile calls.

Chen said the firms should cut their rates by about 50 percent. While the fees would still be higher than those in most neighboring countries, they would be more customer-friendly, he said.

In other news, the Executive Yuan’s Consumer Protection Committee said people would be entitled to a refund on concert tickets starting next month at the earliest, after a draft amendment is approved by the legislature.

After pop signer A-mei’s (阿妹) concert ended a few days ago, the committee received complaints from people who said they had been refused a refund by the organizer because they lost their tickets.

They were barred from entering the concert venue, even though they had provided proof that they had purchased tickets, committee official Chen Hsing-hung (陳星宏) said, adding that 38 ticket disputes have been reported since January.

To protect consumers’ rights, the committee is considering a modification to the regulation on the standard form contract for concert or art performance tickets, so that consumers can ask for a refund on their tickets within a set period of time before the performance takes place, Chen said.

The organizers should allow customers to seek a refund or change their tickets 10 days prior to a performance and they should not charge more than 10 percent of the ticket price as a transaction fee, Chen said.

However, the committee said the regulations should only apply to tickets for designated seats.

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