Appraising FCCP’s Effective Handling Of Consumers’ Complaints
There is no denying the fact that not few companies are facing enormous challenges in resolving customer complaints. Though, some of the challenges are easily resolved, but others are unarguably complex. Even as some of the challenges are unarguably complicated, representatives that work in Customer Complaint Unit arecollectively seen to be the face of the company’s brand and the impression they make on customers while resolving customer’s complaints has a profound impact on how the companies and businesses are viewed, and how complaints are resolved determines whether or not a repeat purchase would be made. That means it is crucial for companies to professionally establish the mechanism for resolving customers’ complaints as soon as they are notified by each passing day.
Against the foregoing backdrop, it was obvious that consumers need better services in terms of addressing issues that dwell on complaints. So, it wasn’t a surprise that being the foremost competition and consumer protection authority in Nigeria, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), under the behest of Mr. Babatunde Irukera, the Executive Vice-Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the commission weigh in to engender an effective platform to respond to customer’s complaints across consumer complaints.
The onus for the commission’s intervention cannot be farfetched as it is very clear that by its mandate, it receives and looks into consumer complaints in a bid to ensuring speedy redress for complainants, even as any person who uses products or services expects to get value from them, and when this expectation is not met, it gives rise to complaints.
At this juncture, it is expedient to clarify that for the Commission to address a complaint, the aggrieved consumer must have initially engaged the provider of the product or service. If not satisfied, the complainant can then file a complaint with the Commission. This may either be in hard copy and delivered to any of its offices or soft copy through the website portal or email.
Furthermore, the complaint must clearly state the party complained against, with the correct address, the amount involved and the expected redress.
As gathered, proof of transaction and any other documents to support the claim been made must be attached as all these will help the Commission with the process of redress, if a valid complaint is established.
In fact, the beauty of its all is that if complaint was received electronically, immediate acknowledgementshould be expected. In a similar vein, if complaint was received in hard copy, the complainant should expect to get an acknowledgment within 2 working days.
According to Irukera, “A complaint could be resolved immediately or may take more time depending on its nature. Complaints require a response from the provider of products and services which the Commission will request for. Some require the intervention of other stakeholders such as sector regulators while others do not. While the Commission is committed to providing speedy redress to valid complaints, the provision of accurate information and documentation makes this easier and reduces the timelines. It takes anything between one (1) day and forty five days (45) days to get redress. However, some exceptions may exist beyond this time-frame.
Ostensibly demonstrating the fact that resolving consumers’ complaint is of top priority to the commission, Irukera at a media parley few weeks ago says it is considering imposing penalties on companies without an accessible consumer complaint resolution platform, and frowned at the inability of most companies to effectively resolve consumer complaints, saying the development had increased the number of daily complaints received by the commission.
He added that the FCCPC’s complaint resolution team has become a multi-company customer service desk, and was quoted to have said that “The reason why people are coming to us more is that they can’t find the people who sold stuff to them.”
He said, “There is no stand alone, clear, accessible, well-publicised resolution platform by these companies for people to reach them.
“What we are doing is that we are going to write regulations, if you do not have that, there will be a penalty.”
The number one consumer protector said the commission is developing a complaint resolution platform that would allow companies to plug in through a subscription and receive any consumer complaint relating to them.
“With your plugging in, as the system is, as a complaint comes against you, it pushes it down to you and it is now your obligation to resolve it and we are seeing it,” he said.
“We will now start making them (companies) pay a subscription since we created what they should have.
“The federal government should not be the one creating customer service platforms for companies.
“We will make them pay a subscription to hook up and then when they do not resolve complaints on our dashboard, we will become a secondary resolution mechanism and make them pay the cost of resolution.”
To a large extent, there is no denying the fact that the complaints channeled through FCCPC’s Consumer Complaint Portal over a period of time have gone a long way in determining what consumers actually want from service providers and consequently used as determinants of ascertaining how sectors within the economy are performing.
For instance, its Nigerian’s consumer complaint chart in 2021 unarguably threw insight to how organisations within various sectors of the economy are performing.
As conveyed in the chart, consumer complaints about power was projected to top of the list in 2022. And as predicted, it is undeniable that poor customer service delivery is already been witnessed even as 2022 is ongoing.
Irukera who made the disclosure during the last quarter of 2021 in Abuja said while electricity worries were at the top of the list, complaints about banking were at the bottom.
It would be recalled that prior to the parley that Irukera said that the commission received and handled 32000 consumer-related complaints, with 80 percent of grievances settled.
In his words, “For the sectors that received the highest complaints, we have electricity, banking then aviation is now competing with telecommunications on the third place”.
”The biggest problem with the airlines is not even the technical issues but their lack of transparency, responsiveness, and being able to refund passengers when it becomes absolutely clear that flying at that time becomes pointless for them.
”We are continuing that battle and then we are resolving many complaints”, he said.
In response to the commission’s concerns, Irukera remarked that certain companies had failed to realize that the regulatory landscape had changed and that they now have duties.
According to Mr. Magnus Iwebuke, a banker, “Prior to Irukera’s tenure, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) was largely unknown to many. It is applauding that Mr. Irukera has changed the landscape of consumer protection in Nigeria to the admiration of many Nigerians.”
As gathered, a lot has changed. Despite operating with lean resources which would been an opportunity to resort to giving excuse for failure or non-performance, the commission moved on to do what it has to do in the circumstances to resolve consumers’ complaints.
It would be recalled that on assumption of office, that Irukera with his team braced the odds despite challenges on ground. There is no denying the fact that the resiliency of the team has resulted to its success of recording approximately 1,000 complaints in a week against about 700 to 1,000 complaints that were being received per annum prior to his assumption of office.
Today, the commission is receiving complaints from multiple channels, including Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, telephone lines, complaints resolution portal online, emails. Against the backdrop of the tremendous improvement, the criticism about FC CP’s responsiveness and ability to resolve complaints has gone down significantly.