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Telecomm regulator warns mobile carriers to reduce wait times on customer service hotlines

Mobile services customers can spend up to an hour on hold when calling their carriers’ customer service lines, and the Telecommunications Superintendence (SUTEL) is taking action.

SUTEL issued a warning to all carriers and granted them six months to outline a plan to improve their procedures in order to reduce wait times, and a plan to improve their overall service quality within three months.

The warning is the agency’s first action following the release, last week, of results of its survey on customer perception and satisfaction. SUTEL found that most surveyed people — 75.4 percent — said they wait up to 10 minutes on hold before they can talk to a customer service agent in order to file a service inquiry or claim. Another 15 percent said they have to stay on the phone for up to half an hour and two percent claimed they have to wait an hour or more to talk to an operator.

Other results

Of the carriers evaluated in the survey, Spanish carrier Movistar (Telefónica) at 7.8 toped the satisfaction list regarding customer service wait times. Mexican carrier Claro (América Móvil) followed at 7.6 and local Tuyo Móvil was third at 7.3. Full Móvil at 6.8, and state-owned Kölbi (ICE) at 5.6 placed at the bottom of the list.

SUTEL also evaluated customers’ satisfaction with the quality of their mobile and mobile Internet services, and results were similar.

Movistar ranked first with 8.7, followed by Claro (8.5), Tuyo (8.6), Fullmóvil (8.4) and Kölbi at 7.8.

Customers of all carriers in general are dissatisfied with the speed of their mobile Internet service. Satisfaction values in this area ranged between 6.6 for Kölbi to 7.6 for Movistar.

SUTEL conducted its telephone survey of a sample of 3,122 people between August and December and has a confidence level of 95 percent.

Complaints

SUTEL President Manuel Ruiz Gutiérrez said in a public statement that the survey will help the organization fulfill its duty to guarantee consumer rights.

This week’s warning is just the first step of a process that might lead to sanctions against carriers, but the agency also needs customers complaints in order to file a case against a company.

Spokesman Eduardo Castellón told The Tico Times that SUTEL urges customers to help them improve their monitoring of customer satisfaction by filing complaints with their carriers.

“Many people who face problems with their carrier just rant on Facebook, but we can’t base a complaint on a social media post,” he said.

He added that SUTEL will conduct another survey at the end of this year to determine if sanctions should be applied.

“If the results of the new survey show that carriers failed to improve their customers’ satisfaction rates, we will move forward with actions that might involve legal or even financial sanctions,” he said.

Results are also consistent with a SUTEL report about consumer complaints filed between January and July of last year. According to that report, customers of mobile services made a total of 347 complaints, and almost half of them corresponded to problems with the quality of service.

Most of those complaints — 41 percent — were from ICE-Kölbi’s customers. Claro followed at 23 percent and Movistar was third with 11 percent, the regulator reported.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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