Staff Correspondent : In 2023, more than 11,000 complaints were made by customers against the country’s mobile phone operator companies. These complaints have been submitted to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). The regulator said that 76 per cent of complaints have been resolved within a year. However, the assessment of the participants is that the grievance redressal process of BTRC is not proper.
According to the data received, Grameenphone has the single highest number of complaints among the operators. State-owned company Teletalk is in the second position. Next among the five operators are Robi, Airtel and Banglalink respectively. Analysis of the data showed that customers submitted the most complaints about service quality, internet speed and data volume.
According to the statistics of BTRC, in 2023, the total number of customer complaints against the operators was 11,334. Among them, 3,170 complaints were filed against Grameenphone, 2,149 against Teletalk, 2,035 against Robi, 1,812 against Airtel and 1,291 against Banglalink. Apart from this, 877 complaints have also been received against Skito and other operators. These category-wise complaints are service quality, internet i.e. data speed and volume, dropped calls, fraudulent activities, incoming and outgoing calls and SMS, mobile number portability (MNP), package changes, quizzes and prizes, recharge or billing, SIM registration. or ownership-related matters. But the first three reasons are the most complained about by customers.
Among the operators, the most complaints are against Grameenphone. However, their number of subscribers is also higher than other operators. According to BTRC, the operator had a subscriber base of around 8.22 million till last December. Most of the customer complaints against Grameenphone last year were related to service quality. A total of 1,062 complaints have been filed in this regard. Apart from this, 362 complaints were received regarding internet speed, 192 regarding recharge or billing, 171 regarding calls or SMS and 262 regarding other issues.
When asked about the complaints of customers, Grameenphone Head of Communications Sharfuddin Ahmed Chowdhury said, ‘Customers are at the center of all efforts of Grameenphone. Every complaint of the customers is tried to be solved with utmost importance. Customer service quality improvement is an ongoing process. GP’s multi-faceted initiatives and efforts to provide the highest quality services through the most trusted network of people in the country are ongoing and will continue.
State-owned operator Teletalk is second in customer complaints. 2,149 complaints have been filed against the operator with only 64.60 lakh subscribers. No specific information was available from BTRC regarding the complaint against Teletalk in any category.
When contacted, Teletalk managing director Habibur Rahman told, “Teletalk’s customers have the most complaints about network coverage. Currently 65 percent of the country’s geographical area is covered by Teletalk. The remaining 35 percent area is spread across the country like pockets. Users in those areas do not get network and their complaints cannot be resolved. Because, for this, investment is needed.
He said, ‘Teleot is being reinvested to eliminate the ongoing problems including coverage. A project in this regard is ongoing. When the project is completed, 85 percent of the geographical area will come under the coverage of Teletalk.
The MD of Teletalk also said, ‘Another complaint of the customers is that there is no network when the power goes out. Because, back-up electricity cannot be provided in the tower. Working on that issue as well. Apart from this, complaints about package, internet, MNP etc. are settled quickly.
Robi and Airtel
Malaysia-based Aziata Group and India’s Airtel Limited are currently operating under the name ‘Robi’. Mobile numbers for Robi customers start with 018 and for Airtel customers with 016. However, Robi has been serving both types of customers since 2016 in terms of network and customer service. Out of this, 2,035 complaints of Robi customers and 1,812 complaints of Airtel users were received. Currently, adding the complaints filed against these two operators, which are operated under the same company, stands at a maximum of 3,847. In Robi’s case, there were 607 complaints about service quality, 261 about value added service (VAS), 166 about internet data speed and 113 about data volume. On the other hand, Airtel received 695 complaints about service quality, 348 about internet speed, 113 about data volume and 136 about VAS-related issues.
When asked, Robi Aziata Limited’s Chief Corporate and Regulatory Officer Shahed Alam said, ‘As a customer-friendly operator, Robi takes any customer complaint seriously and resolves it as quickly as possible. However due to technical limitations it may take time to resolve some complaints, which are very few in number. It would not be right to treat everything as a blanket complaint here. Most of these are general customer inquiries, not complaints. The number of complaints or inquiries can be assumed to be normal compared to Robi’s more than 5 crore 80 lakh customers.
1 thousand 291 complaints have been filed against the operator Banglalink of around 4 crore 34 lakh customers. Among them, 463 complaints about service, 114 about data speed, 83 about data volume and 68 about tariff have been submitted.
Gazi Tawheed Ahmed, Head of Corporate Communication, Banglalink said, “If any complaint comes to BTRC or any frontline channel, they are treated very seriously. Banglalink has an internal complaint management system-where every complaint is addressed with utmost care. The customer is informed at every step of the complaint ‘ticket’ until the complaint is resolved and the customer’s trust is regained. Apart from this, experience from these complaints is used internally to improve service quality. It is an ongoing process.’
What regulatory body says
As a regulatory body BTRC is primarily responsible for redressal of customer complaints. A review of the complaints submitted to the commission shows that in 2022, 15,749 complaints were submitted against the operators. Among them, 12,219, i.e. 78 percent, were settled. On the other hand, out of 11 thousand 334 complaints in 2023, 8,666 or 76 percent were resolved.
Secretary of BTRC about these complaints of customers and their settlement. Nurul Hafiz told that some complaints are submitted to the ‘Grievance Redress System’ or GRS system. After someone files a complaint, it is automatically routed through the system to the concerned officer. Besides, investigation officers are appointed to settle complaints. In view of this, an inquiry is conducted and the action taken in view of the inquiry is immediately communicated to the complainant. Most complaints are lodged through BTRC’s ‘Short Code 100’. Mobile operators are connected with it. When complaints come, they can know the matter immediately. After that, they took the complaint into account and took action. We can know what steps they took through the ‘Customer Management System’ or CMS. There is no ‘gap’ in the whole matter. However, if the complainant is not satisfied or if the commission receives a written complaint with the chairman, then it is sent to the concerned department. The complainant is informed of the action taken.’
He said, “All complaints are taken into account in one way or another. Not seen at all – no complaints. There are some complaints, which cannot be resolved or are not resolved immediately. For example, a single person at a particular location is not getting network. There is no instant solution. However, we urge all concerned including operators, NTTN to increase capacity. Except for some such complaints, all the rest are settled.
Bangladesh Cellphone Consumers Association is not satisfied with BTRC’s complaint settlement. Mohiuddin Ahmed, the president of the association, said, “According to the Telecommunication Act, complaints should be settled within 7 working days. But customer complaints in BTRC have been lying for years. I asked them to open a complaint center in the new office of BTRC, which will have representatives of mobile operators. They will provide ‘one stop service’ to customers. Grievances where the grievance redressal process is complex or require the presence of higher authorities of the operators, will be heard separately during the week. But they are nothing. Now they say 76 percent of complaints have been resolved. But it is not clear how much has actually been done, whether the customer is satisfied with the settlement or not.
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