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Chunghwa Telecom could be fined for mobile package chaos

2018/05/13 22:57:11

CNA file photo

Taipei, May 13 (CNA) Chunghwa Telecom Co. (中華電信), Taiwan's largest telecom company, could be punished for failing to address "chaos" in society that the firm triggered last week with its flash mob-style launch of a NT$499 (US$16.75) monthly 4G plan for unlimited data transmission.

The telecom service provider has sparked frenzied buying since it kicked off a week-long sale of the special package Wednesday.

The promotional move then drew Taiwan Mobile Co. (台灣大哥大) and Far EasTone Telecommunications Co. (遠傳電信), the second- and third- largest telecom firms in the country, to follow suit by introducing almost identical plans for fear of losing subscribers.

The NT$499 flat-rate package was such a big incentive that consumers crowded all outlets of the companies across the country, forcing front-desk employees to work overtime to process a sudden surge of massive orders.

The low rate plan, offered for a limited time from May 9-15 as a promotional strategy, triggered complaints from old clients subscribing to higher rate plans, who were only allowed to switch to the cheaper offer after they have paid fines for ending their existing contracts ahead of time.

The consumer mania caught the attention of the National Communications Commission (NCC), an independent statutory agency responsible for regulating the development of the communications and information industry.

On Friday, the NCC launched an investigation into accusations of inappropriate business practices, bad service and infringement of users' rights and interests against the telecoms companies, and ordered the businesses to take immediate steps to address the long lines of offer-grabbing users.

However, "no improvement has been made since then," the NCC said Sunday, ordering Chunghwa Telecom, of which the government is the largest shareholder, to explain itself at the NCC on Monday.

Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone will also be summoned later to make their respective statements, the regulator added.

It noted that under the Regulations for Administration of Mobile Broadband Businesses, any operators found to have engaged in suspicious business practices or offered poor services that infringe on users' rights and interests must correct themselves within a time frame set by the NCC.

Those failing to make improvement will be subjected to a fine ranging from NT$300,000 to NT$3 million, which can be imposed consecutively, under the Telecommunications Act, the NCC said.

(By Liao Yu-yang and Elizabeth Hsu)
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