Pay-TV service complaints fall

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 August, 2007, 12:00am

3,000 people contact Cable TV in a month criticising hotline

Cable TV received up to 3,000 complaints against its controversial hotline services in June, almost as many as the total number of complaints filed with the Consumer Council against all pay-TV operators in the first half of this year.

But the latest figures from the council show the situation is improving, based on a drop last month in the number of complaints it has received against pay-TV operators compared with June. There were 553 complaints against all pay-TV operators in Hong Kong in July, only half of June's figure of 1,067.

Kenneth So Wai-sang, the council's acting deputy chief executive, said the drop was mainly due to an improvement in issues concerning contract termination. Complaints about terminating contracts made up more than one third of all complaints during the first six months of this year.

'The operators have promised to improve their services since we talked to them in June, and it appears that their efforts have borne some results,' he said.

The council received 3,114 complaints from January to June 25, more than the 2,909 complaints it received for the whole of last year. More than one third of the complaints - 1,101 - concerned contract termination, while 782 were about the quality of services.

But Benjamin Tong Wai-sun, executive director of i-Cable Communications, said yesterday the company received 2,000 to 3,000 complaints concerning hotline services in the one month after Cable TV lost its exclusive live-broadcast rights for the English Premier League to Now TV in May.

Soccer fans who failed to terminate their services with Cable TV wrote to the press accusing the company of deliberately dodging their calls.

One complainant, Mark Hooper, said in the South China Morning Post that the operator had blocked his telephone calls, refused to acknowledge it had received his faxes and denied him a direct contact number.

But Mr Tong said: 'We were setting up our call centre in Guangzhou at the time and some of the phone lines were retracted, but now everything's settled.'

In July, Cable TV implemented four measures to improve its handling of termination notices.

The termination form, previously available only upon request, can now be downloaded from the company's website or collected from the company's Tsuen Wan office.

The company has also strengthened phone and fax connections and recruited more staff to handle inquiries and complaints.

But Dawn Lam, a former district councillor assistant who helped the elderly in public estates to terminate their pay TV services, doubted if the improvement would last.

'They have so many tricks to exhort money from their clients.'

She said Cable TV packages - many of which include i-Cable broadband services with a free e-mail account - charged outgoing customers thousands of dollars if they did not clean up their account.

'I have heard many complaints that just prior to the end of their services, these complimentary e-mail accounts, which many have never used, would be loaded with anonymous e-mails that overwhelmed your account, and they could charge you for that.'

Previously many elderly folk had complained about strong-arm tactics by sales representatives.

Better reception

Overall, there has been a drop in complaints against pay-TV operators.

The number of complaints against all pay-TV operators in Hong Kong in July was: 553