Telcos Will Not Charge Existing Customers on Contract for 4G VAS
Updated at 10.05PM: SingTel issued the following statement on the matter.
SingTel - "Even before IDA's latest announcement was made, SingTel's policy with regard to changes to price plans or promotions is that these changes would only apply if customers choose to renew their contract or sign-up a new contract. We will always provide customers with ample advance notice if we introduce changes or end promotions, so that they will have sufficient time to make an informed decision."
Originally reported at 9.45PM
The three telcos - M1, SingTel and StarHub - have decided not to charge existing customers on contract for the 4G Value-Added-Service (VAS) after the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) stepped in.
In its statement posted on Facebook, IDA said that it investigated the matter after StarHub announced last week that 4G SmartSurf customers had to pay an additional $2.14 a month for the 4G VAS from 1st June. The industry regulator noted that "there is significant consumer confusion over the service plans they signed up for."
IDA - "Under the Telecoms Competition Code, telecoms operators must communicate key terms and conditions to customers prior to service sign-up. Telecoms operators should not change prices mid-way that affect customers with minimum term contracts, if they were not clear to customers upfront what those price changes might be."
Many customers were unaware that the the 4G service was offered as part of their mobile data bundle promotion. IDA stated that telcos could have done more to communicate their 4G VAS position to subscribers at points-of-sale and customer interaction channels. StarHub later issued its comments on this matter.
"In regard to this promotion, we have been upfront with customers. Details of this service, including pricing and promotion expiry have been made available in our sales and marketing materials as well as on our website since its introduction in September 2012." - Mr Chan Kin Hung, StarHub’s Senior Vice President of Mobility.
While existing 4G customers are exempted from paying more until the end of their contracts, new and re-contracting subscribers are still subjected to the additional charges if they want the 4G VAS.