Pay-TV tactics bring surge of complaints

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2007, 12:00am

A lawmaker has urged the police and government to investigate a growing number of complaints by pay-TV users who say they have been misled by unscrupulous salesmen to enter into service contracts.

The Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre has received about 100 complaints from Kwai Chung residents in the past three months, more than 90 of them against Cable TV.

Fifty of those complaints came in the past week, and they concern door-to-door salesmen allegedly 'tricking' potential subscribers into signing pay-TV service contracts.

Leung Yiu-chung, a lawmaker and executive member of the centre, said most complainants were elderly people who were uneducated.

'They have been told that because of the new digital broadcasting which comes into effect by the end of the year, they will not be able to view the two free terrestrial channels after that if they do not subscribe to a pay-TV service,' Mr Leung said.

The other 50 complaints were from subscribers who said they could not get through to staff to disconnect their services.

One subscriber, Lee Ching-man, said she had tried three times since the beginning of last month.

'Each time I was put on hold for 20 to 30 minutes,' she said. 'It was one of those automated selection procedures and I have already left my contact details twice but no one has called me back.

'One time, I called through to the service connection and my call was answered very quickly. But they said they could not do anything and I had to go through the whole process of leaving my details again.'

Mr Leung said some subscribers unable to disconnect their services were automatically put on a new 18-month contract without prior notice.

He had written to the Broadcasting Authority to request a meeting over the matter but the authority declined without giving a reason.

He called on the government to set up a licensing system for salespeople and to refuse licence renewals where there had been a large number of complaints.

A Cable TV spokeswoman yesterday said: 'After the salesperson submits the service application form, a supervisor will ring the customers within 10 days to confirm the charges and service plan before the contract becomes effective.'

She said the long-waiting time was due to telephone network upgrading, but this should improve with the recruitment of more frontline staff.