Digital Regulation Platform
Good practices in consumer outreach and education

Good practices in consumer outreach and education

Regulators’ roadshows Source: TRAI consumer outreach newsletter, February 2020. Many regulators recognize that even with the increasing availability of digital media, physical visits to different parts of their territory remain of great value in establishing human connections with ordinary consumers. The photo above is taken from an outreach event held by the Indian regulator, TRAI, in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan in January 2020. It shows that such events can attract impressive audiences. TRAI had ten such outreach events planned to take place during February 2020. Source: ICASA image gallery. The South African regulator ICASA also has a roadshow programme. Of course, roadshows…

Read »
Consumer requirements of regulators

Consumer requirements of regulators

Introduction Source: UK National Consumer Federation. In the United Kingdom in 2018, the U.K. National Consumer Federation (2018) published the Consumer Charter for Regulators which is reproduced below. It summarizes a set of key points, which can be useful for high-level self-assessment, or more broadly for identifying areas for change within a country. The document was produced by three major consumer organizations in the United Kingdom – Consumer Focus, Which?, and the National Consumer Federation – in consultation with many smaller consumer organizations and interested individual consumers. A consumer congress dedicated to the topic was an important stage in developing…

Read »
Protection of consumers with prepaid accounts

Protection of consumers with prepaid accounts

Regulating to protect consumers with prepaid accounts The ability to pay for mobile service in small increments,[1] as and when they are needed and resources permit, is a major factor in making the service affordable to people on low or unpredictable incomes. Affordability remains a barrier to Internet usage for large groups in Africa, South Asia, and Latin America (After Access 2017: 26, 37, 59). Despite a drift away from prepaid packages towards postpaid contracts (generally fostered by service providers, especially in richer countries), prepayment remains the dominant payment mechanism for mobile service throughout the developing world, and is still…

Read »
Basic statistics for quality of service assessment

Basic statistics for quality of service assessment

Means Quality of service measurements are typically concerned with numbers like: The proportion of call set-ups that are successful. The mean of the times taken by file downloads. To provide the numbers, “events” (such as call set-ups and file downloads) are observed. The “observations” are numerical values of important facts about the events. For instance, in these examples they could be: 1 for a successful call set-up and 0 for an unsuccessful call set-up. The time taken by a file download. In this note observations are also called “measurements” and are used to calculate “measurement results.” Perhaps the commonest measurement…

Read »

International organizations relevant to consumer affairs

The table below supplements the section on international organizations in the Handbook chapter on “Consumer affairs.” International bodies can help national regulators to handle consumer affairs in various ways, including: Ensuring that frameworks for international trade and cooperation take account of consumer interests – for example, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD). Supporting each other’s enforcement efforts related to cross-border e-commerce and illegal activities – for example, the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) and Unsolicited Communications Enforcement Network (UCENET). Devising international standards, among others for ICT and digital-related products…

Read »
Good practices in consumer support

Good practices in consumer support

Good practices in India Source: Screenshot from https://consumerhelpline.gov.in/ncd2016/microsite/. The consumer support arrangements in India are extensive, varied by both sector and region, and provide an example of best practice. They are being continuously developed. As a huge country, selected parts of their arrangements may fit the needs of smaller countries. The Department of Consumer Affairs’ portal website draws attention to alternative ways for consumers to get support. As well as browsing and registering on the website, they can: make a free phone call (to a short code or a full national number); send a text asking for a return call…

Read »
Introduction to digital consumer rights: consumer consultation

Introduction to digital consumer rights: consumer consultation

Representation as a basic consumer right Source: https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng (drawing by Akinoro Oishi). One of the consumer rights that can be said to underlie all the rest, or to be central to it, is that of representation. When making decisions, regulators are supposed to strike balances among the interests of different stakeholder groups. While some regulators have a special mandate to uphold the interests of consumers, they also have duties towards the industry that they regulate. Consumer representatives, by contrast, are dedicated to putting forward policies that they believe (based on research and expertise) will best serve consumers. Of course, no…

Read »
Consumer rights in the digital context

Consumer rights in the digital context

General statements of communications consumer rights While basic consumer rights apply in principle across all consumer transactions, they need to be elaborated and specialized in each sector so that providers know exactly what is expected of them and consumers know where they stand. The UNCTAD Manual on Consumer Protection (UNCTAD 2019) contains chapters on the application of basic consumer rights to financial services, public utilities (mainly water, sanitation, and energy) and food, while its Sustainable Development publication (UNCTAD 2017) covers their application to health care. This article illustrates how they have been interpreted in the digital sector in some countries.…

Read »