Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Over the past 3 to 4 months, in my kampung, i.e. Kampung Lubuk Layang, Temerloh, Pahang, we have had NO service for maybe now almost 1 month in total because apparently some body had cut and stolen the phone cable leading to the homes in this kampung. This has happened 3 times in the past 3-4 months. The first time, it took about 2 weeks for it to be restored, and on the last occasion, we lost it on Sunday and it only came back on Thursday evening(15/3/2012).
Unlike electricity and water, a disruption of service also means that you do not get get charged as there is no consumption, but in the case of telephone lines, telekom already charges fixed monthly rates for phone services, and for internet (in my case I pay a fixed rate of RM88 per month) - but even if there is a disruption, the Bills come every time for the full rate - and this is very wrong.
Unlike TNB (our electricity provider), the response time for TM has been becoming worse. Here we are talking about cable 'thefts' maybe just about the length of 1 to 3 poles, which naturally could be very easily repaired within 12 hours (or 24 hours at most) - but it just do not happen speedily any more.
WHY? Because of inefficiency ....and maybe also the practice of 'outsourcing' repair works to 3rd party contractors delays repairs. If they did it on their own, then maybe it may have been faster - but even if outside contractors are involved, the delay is not justified. Are they issuing 'new tenders' for each and every fault that needs to be repaired? Hopefully not....
When the phone line is out and the internet is down - there is a lot of loss suffered by the consumer. Today many people, besides using their internet for browsing, e-mailing, etc - also do subscribe to internet services like on-line newspapers/magazines, and in my case also on-line law journals that now cost me about RM2,000 per year. Now, there is also on-line banking, e-aduans, on-line SPR checking, etc... needed to be done,...not to mention disruption of rights of expression, communication which today is done a lot vide internet through blogs, letters to editors, email, social network sites like Facebook, twitters, etc. Lawyers too need the internet for their e-filings and many other transactions. So too other professions..
So when services are disrupted, more so not due to your own personal in-house line or equipment, lot of other losses are suffered by the consumer. As of right, Telekom when they issue their subsequent months Bill, MUST without being prompted make necessary deductions to fixed charges of phone and/or internet services, where the deductions be for days/weeks that the service was disrupted. This the Malaysian government must insist upon, and not escape liability and/or obligation and/or their duty to consumers on the grounds that this service has already been privatised.When complaints are made about service disruptions - I hope they are free, and consumers are not being charged for this as well.
As it is, many of the agreements these service providers (phone, internet, electricty, water supply,... does not impose any for the service providers to provide disruption-free services. Maybe an obligation must be placed on prompt restoration of services not later than maybe 24 hours, plus also the obligation to communicate immediately to consumers if there is going to be any disruptions, or when there is an exact time when the service will be restored, failing they should be liable for all losses suffered by consumers.
In my case, they first said that the most recent problem will be resolved within 24 hours, latest 48 hours - later they said by 14/3/2012(an SMS was sent to me on 12/3/2012), but ultimately service was restored only in the early evening of 15/3/2012.
It is the Malaysian government's obligation to ensure that these basic services are never disrupted, and if it is then it will be restored forthwith certainly within 24 hours. And in the case of phone/internet services, the said service provider also make the necessary deductions of fixed rates for day/weeks whereby the service was disrupted without requiring consumers to chase after them for such deductions.
The right to claim damages for disruptions lasting longer than 24 hours, and for planned disruptions not communicated to clients in advance, must be made available.
The government also need monitor service providers to ensure that their response time is fast - and if the using of outside contractors is the problem, then maybe we need to get rid of this, and TM should have their own response team, and should at all time have the required cable and other needed parts in their stores.
Phone line cables, I believe, do have an inbuilt 'alarm' system, that will be triggered off immediately when cables are cut, so that disruptions of such will come to the immediate knowledge of Telekom who could immediately rush to the area (or get the police) to respond, and such thieves could easily be arrested and charged. Phone cables are items not easy to hide, and there is a need for certain kind of equipment (which are difficult to hide) when one is climbing to steal an overhanging phone cable. [The contractor repairing the cable leading to the kampung said that this cable apparently was not equipped with such 'alarm' - and I wonder why, for surely the cables most likely to be stolen are along kampung roads and rural areas - and that is where one needs to have these alarms.]
Now, likewise maybe there is a need for CCTVs to be installed more so since the theft of cables have occurred three(3) times in the space of the last 3-4 months.
The other option, is to bury the said phone lines underground making it even more difficult to steal - but alas, this too was not done, and I would not be surprised if more such thefts happen again at around same area/location.
Was the police informed by the Telekom about these 3 thefts in the last 3-4 months? For, too date I have yet to see any police investigation being done - no police have come to ask me anything.
It is the poor people that most suffer - and let us hope that the Malaysian government will step in and do something about this. To compound matters, the MP of Temerloh is in the Cabinet member.
Hopefully, this government will not come and say that it is not their responsibility any more since this service have already been privatized..