Qtel's toothless Customer Charter

Qtel announced yesterday its first-ever customer charter, which the company says is part of "major improvements and enhancements in recent months, to ensure that we deliver the best possible experience for all our customers"

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By  Mark Sutton Published  August 4, 2009

Qtel announced yesterday its first-ever customer charter, which the company says is part of "major improvements and enhancements in recent months, to ensure that we deliver the best possible experience for all our customers".

Inevitably the Charter got flamed instantly by disgruntled customers, so a closer inspection of what's actually in the document seemed in order.

First - the good news. The document does spell out clearly the complaints procedure and escalation process for grievances - a basic bit of communications that is missing from too many telcos in the region, but nevertheless it might help knowing who to shout at if you've got a problem with Qtel.

The charter also provides a new provision for billing disputes, where Qtel shop staff can provide an on-the-spot refund and waiver of charges when the disputed amount is less than QR20 (although that's only five and a half dollars).

Qtel also says that it will instigate an annual, independent audit of its performance in respecting customer privacy, and that it won't sell customer details to spammers.

The bad side - well, it will use customer information databases to "communicate information", including  "marketing information that may be of interest and use to our customers and may ultimately benefit them", with no pledge that the "marketing information" won't come from third parties.

The complaints procedure says that it will look for an "ultimate option that will resolve the complaint to your satisfaction" but that this process can end in the issuing of a "deadlock" letter if they can't resolve it. In other words, they'll do everything they can to deal with a complaint, until they don't feel like doing any more.

There's no mention of any penalties, compensation or other forms of redress if Qtel is found to be at fault. There's no mention of what levels of performance or service customers can expect from the company in case of a problem. There's no  mention of referring complaints to a third party for a proper solution.

And to finish, here's the kicker - the customer charter ends with the clause "Nothing in this document affects your legal rights or forms part of any contract with us."

So its a lot of fine words about customer service, with no guarantee of any actual customer service then?

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