Updated 6.45pm with Melita statement
Melita must pay a €10,000 fine after it ignored customers' requests to terminate their phone and internet service contracts, an administrative review tribunal confirmed today.
The tribunal was confirming a decision previously reached by the Malta Communications Authority, which found that Melita plc had failed to respect customers' requests to end their contracts and at times persisted in issuing bills.
The MCA had issued a warning letter to Melita in November 2014, warning it that it had to respect legal procedures as laid down in the termination and disconnection agreement.
Since the service provider ignored this warning, the MCA imposed a €10,000 penalty on December 5, 2014.
The company had filed an appeal against this decision, arguing that it had not violated any law and that the MCA was not empowered to impose fines.
Moreover, it alleged that its delay in complying with customers' complaints was due to a change in its IT system.
The tribunal, however, remarked that Melita customers had been denied the right to terminate their subscriptions "at any moment and in a simple manner" as envisaged in the termination and disconnection agreement which was to enter into effect as from January 15, 2014.
Indeed, customers' requests were acceded to only after the intervention of the MCA and not through the "spontaneous and timely intervention" of the service provider itself.
The tribunal rejected the appeal by Melita, declaring it to be unjustified and concluded that the €10,000 penalty imposed by the MCA had been "reasonable and proportionate", Court expenses were also to be borne by Melita.
In a statement this afternoon, Melita said the decision dated to a time when it was investing in a major IT upgrade of its customer relationship management software that had presented some major challenges during its implementation.
The process for the termination of contracts had since been reviewed and updated in full conformity with all legal requirements.
Melita was making significant efforts to improve service to its customers and last December launched four customer service promises to serve its customers better and provide a clear expectation of the service levels that customers should demand from Melita.
In addition to customer service promises, Melita introduced a complaint procedure promising a reply within one working day to emails sent on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Customer who were still unhappy after the complaint procedure was exhausted could lodge their complaint directly with the chief executive officer at email@example.com.
Melita said it was also publishing the average call waiting time to reach its customer care centre on a weekly and monthly basis. Results may be viewed here.