Don’t be Taken for a Ride in the Quest to Surf at Home
The Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA) cautions prospective home Internet users to be circumspect when evaluating advertising claims.
ISPA is concerned that some providers of home connectivity solutions may be trying to capitalise on the current demand by consumers for ICT (Information and Communications Technology) services that enable them to work from home.
“Anyone looking to update their ability to communicate, work, study, socialise and be entertained from home should be wary of overly-wordy, jargon-laced advertising designed to confuse rather than inform,” says Guy Halse, ISPA co-chair.
A useful tip is for consumers to google any terminology used in adverts they don’t understand. Very often, a quick Internet search will reveal that overly-impressive sounding terms used by suspect operators are, in fact, meaningless.
In addition, proper contact details and standard company information should be displayed on all adverts. Legitimate operators would also have an online presence that goes beyond social media and includes a functional company website.
A further useful tip is to determine if advertisers of connectivity solutions are, in fact, registered companies. Consumers can search the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission database located here: https://eservices.cipc.co.za/Search.aspx.
One way for consumers to get proper service and accountability is to do business with an ISPA member because the non-profit association founded a quarter century ago is the only industry body recognised by government under the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act.
This means government is satisfied that ISPA members must abide by a mandatory Code of Conduct and, inter alia, fully comply with a variety of licensing and registration requirements, as well as requirements to protect customer records.
Furthermore, ISPA members undertake to provide professional services and give their customers honest and accurate information about these services.
When it comes to broadband speed claims, ISPA advises that consumers interrogate their prospective Internet or access provider about speeds that can realistically be expected at their end. ISP networks are extraordinarily complex and varying speeds are encountered at different points in the system. Advertising claims should reflect actual speeds experienced by the end consumer.
ISPA members are easy to identify as they are required to display links to ISPA’s Code of Conduct on their websites and also include Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) documentation as well.
ISPA also operates a mediation and complaints process on behalf of ISPA’s members. The process gives customers of ISPA members an opportunity to escalate a dispute with a member to ISPA for attempted resolution. If the mediation process does not resolve the problem, and the member concerned has not complied with ISPA’s Code of Conduct, a formal complaint can be lodged.
More information is available here: https://ispa.org.za/code-of-conduct/procedure/.
Consumers should evaluable ISP advertising with a view to selecting an established service provider, with good support personnel and which is capable of successfully attending to queries when consumers experience difficulties.
Consumers should finally bear in mind that they can request any service provider’s ICASA license and/or reseller exemption which are legal requirements to operate. Those service providers with these documents and which also belong to ISPA further subject themselves to additional layers of accountability.
ISPA’s membership list is available here: https://ispa.org.za/membership/list-of-members/.
For further information, please contact the ISPA secretariat on the Contact ISPA page.