Fomca: Astro must be open on penalties, price changes

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KUALA LUMPUR: Astro Malaysia Holdings Berhad (Astro) must be transparent by disclosing in detail the programme package rates, penalty charges and any changes in prices to its customers.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) Deputy President Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman said Astro could not arbitrarily set the price of the packages or put hidden charges or penalties, thus making its customers feel they were being short-changed.

“I think the government, through the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), should act decisively by investigating this issue and take appropriate action.

“MCMC had last year issued a summons to Astro for violating the provisions of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Content Code,” he told Bernama, here, today.

He was responding to a claim by Astro customer Sephia Mhd Bhrm, via Facebook on June 29, that Astro would impose a high penalty charge on her if she wanted to change the package and terminate the contract with the provider of the pay television channel.

Sephia accused Astro of issuing a notice of payment for the sports package which was increased by RM8. When she wanted to terminate the subscription, she was charged RM360.

Mohd Yusof said that other than hidden charges or penalties, Astro should consider giving rebates or a reduction in subscription charges in the event of disruption of the broadcast (no audio and visual) due to bad weather.

“Astro should be fair to its customers for when they do upgrade to increase the quality of the service, customers need to change the old decoder set to the new Astro B.yond, including the satellite dish ,” he said.

Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) chief activist Nadzim Johan said the issue of consumers complaining about hidden charges or penalties imposed by Astro was not new.

“MCMC must act sternly against Astro because customers are offered various promotions to anchor the subscription package but when they want to reduce or terminate the programme package, customers have to pay, which is inappropriate.

“The commission should issue a guideline for Astro, so it does not trap customers with various hidden charges.”