Only one formal complaint over disappearing data

2015-08-28 13:09 - Gareth van Zyl
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Johannesburg - Just one customer has complained to the National Consumer Commission (NCC) about disappearing mobile data, according to a spokesperson.

Rapid mobile data depletion has become a hot topic in South Africa this month, with complaints streaming into radio stations and on social media.

Fin24 has also received dozens of emails from consumers, who said their purchased data is depleting faster than before and also costs more.

Yet despite the attention focused on this topic, only one consumer has lodged a complaint against Vodacom to the NCC. She lost her case.

"There was only one complaint that was received about data that has disappeared - only one,” Trevor Hattingh, spokesperson for the NCC told Fin24.

"A lack of education in how to use the actual device resulted in the consumer consuming the data without her even knowing,” said Hattingh.

MTN this week also released a statement blaming users’ phone settings for complaints of rapidly depleting data.

MTN said that downloads in background settings of smartphones and even higher resolution images on social network Facebook are sapping customers’ data.

Local technology blogger and IT consultant Liron Segev said networks typically lean on the explanation of background internet or app usage to explain depleting data.

"That's their get out of jail free card,” Segev told Fin24. He added that while phone settings may be to blame, it cannot always be the only reason for rapid data depletion.

Protecting data

Segev told Fin24 that consumers can take steps to protect their data by ensuring, for example, that updates only happen on Wi-Fi networks.

“The one thing that networks do have a leg to stand on is that most people don't change the settings on the app store, be it iOS, be it Android... to say only update in a Wi-Fi zone," Segev said.

Segev also said that users can try out data usage apps, but these apps “sometimes tie up and sometimes don't tie up with what the networks say you've used”.

He added that switching to prepaid can help control data spend.

Avenue to complain

Meanwhile, consumers who are convinced that their phone settings are not depleting their data have the option to bring their complaints to the NCC.

"If a consumer feels that they have exhausted whatever avenues from the service provider to complain and they cannot arrive at an amicable solution, then they can bring the matter to us. They can raise the complaint then with us,” Hattingh told Fin24.

"However, they need to understand that in as far as technical investigation was concerned, we would have to then also call in the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa and if it needs be get experts involved to do that technical explanation for us,” Hattingh said.

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