The National Communications Commission yesterday said it would on Wednesday next week decide how to penalize Chunghwa Telecom for the chaos caused by its low-cost service plan sale that ended on Tuesday.
The nation’s largest telecom on Wednesday last week started offering four low-cost mobile plans ranging from NT$299 to NT$599 per month. The NT$499 plan was the most popular, as it offered unlimited data and 180 minutes of free talk time.
To compete, Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone Telecommunications also began offering NT$499 plans.
However, most consumer complaints were directed at Chunghwa Telecom for long wait times at its stores nationwide, busy customer service lines and exclusion of existing subscribers.
Chunghwa Telecom has said that the plans were introduced to celebrate Mother’s Day and refused to extend the availability of the offers, saying that it would only allow those who filed applications online to subscribe to plans by Tuesday next week and would complete the remaining application procedures by May 31.
The commission has requested that the three major telecoms give detailed briefings this afternoon on how they executed their sales, as it wants to know more about how they planned to enforce the seven-day special, including the number of applications they expected to receive, commission spokesperson Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said.
“We want to know if they planned to streamline the application procedures and whether their retail stores were prepared to handle a large number of applications within a short period of time,” Wong said.
“Meanwhile, we will investigate whether the telecoms thoroughly disclosed the information in advance so that consumers would know the differences between service plans,” Wong added. “Before the plans were launched, these telecoms should have expected to respond to mounting consumer complaints and ensured that they would not overwork their employees.”
The commission on Friday last week asked Chunghwa Telecom to improve the situation following reported consumer complaints and chaos in its offices and retail stores, but the turmoil persisted until Tuesday, Wong said.
The commission also expects to learn whether the special offers have led to significant changes in the number of subscribers among the major telecoms, or whether they motivated subscribers who used to pay higher monthly fees to switch to low-cost plans, he said.
“We are expecting more detailed reports from all three companies and will make our final decision on Wednesday next week,” he said.
Chunghwa Telecom is estimated to have handled about 1 million applications during the seven-day sale, including those filed by the company’s existing subscribers, by subscribers migrating from other carriers and by new subscribers, Wong said, adding that the number accounts for about one-eighth of the company’s total mobile service subscribers.
The commission would ascertain if Chunghwa Telecom’s network is able to cope with the increase in demand, he said, adding that it would also measure the data transmission speed of the company’s mobile service to ensure that subscribers who pay NT$499 per month do not experience slower speeds.
Based on the Regulations for Administration of Mobile Broadband Businesses (行動寬頻業務管理規則), a telecom could face a fine of NT$300,000 to NT$3 million (US$10,036 to US$100,361) if it is deemed to have mismanaged its operations or offered subpar service quality that harmed subscribers’ interests.
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