What would you do if you woke up one morning to find that your bank charged you for a service you never requested? Or if your phone company sent you a backbreaking bill despite not often using your phone or rarely making long phone calls?
Naturally your first reaction would be to call the company’s customer service to try to rectify your problem. But what if the customer service advisor doesn’t take your problem seriously or worse yet, completely ignores your problem? Would you storm into the company offices and argue with the company’s employees?
If these means fail, what other institutions can you go to in Saudi Arabia to file such complaints? More importantly, which institutions give you the opportunity file such complaints in a coherent and serious fashion?
Below is a complete guide in how to do just that, however it will require some patience on your part as to protect your consumer rights.
WHY STAY SILENT?
The biggest reason why public service providers in Saudi Arabia get away with bad service is because consumers stay silent on said service. As such, these consumers do not get the service that should be guaranteed to them based on the company’s terms and conditions. It is high time to right this wrong.
When analyzing the reasons for consumer silence, one would find that consumer ignorance toward their rights and on complaint institutions they can rely on is the primary one. Also there’s consumer laziness toward following up on these complaints. Furthermore, there is a misconception that filing complaints will be a costly venture, while there are those who just don’t want to be a nuisance toward these companies or employees.
That isn’t to say that the problems are entirely the consumers’ fault since many service providers within the banking, airline, telecommunications, hospitality, health and retail sectors provide consumers with poor means of filing complaints. Public and government sectors are no better as they often linger with the complainant’s problems for weeks to make him or her tired and fed up, as a result the consumer would forget about the issue all together.
This presents a never ending cycle since the services these companies provide will only grow poorer with time, and the worse they become the more people will complain. This is an inevitable outcome since no one can live a day without relying on at least one of the above institutions.
Moreover, as the consumer population grows it has become necessary to provide a clear procedure on how to file complaints for poor service, or to request refunds for faulty products.
HOW CAN YOU SUBMIT YOUR COMPLAINT?
In recent years, Saudi institutions have undergone major operational changes, and one of said changes was their launching of supervisory or regulatory bodies. The function of these bodies is to handle consumer complaints and to ensure that he or she gets back rights without any fights or arguments from both parties.
Saudi Arabia has tens of governmental bodies and departments that regulate public and private sectors, improve the rules for competition and enforce strict policies that safeguard the quality of service presented to the consumer.
These bodies and departments have two advantages; first of all they provide consumers with many channels to file their complaints. Consumers can go to these departments in person, or they can call, fax and send post to said departments. More importantly, consumers can contact the departments through more widely used means such as email and even social media platforms. The second advantage is the fact that the departments set deadlines to reply to your complaints, on average the departments will see to your concerns in no longer than 5-10 days. As a matter of fact many departments have shortened these deadlines. Just a few weeks ago, the Dual Electricity and Distribution Authority shortened the period of response to customer complaints received by the Saudi Electricity Company to 10 days rather than 15 days.
The table below is a concise list of the most frequent consumer complaints and the authority bodies they can contact for complaints.
|Complaint||The Body to Complain To|
|Late flights, poor in-flight service and bad treatment of consumers from airport staff||The General Authority of Civil Aviation|
|Non-compliance with house pricing, lack of quality service in hotels or falsely advertising unfurnished apartments as furnished ones.||Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities|
|Overtaxing||Saudi General Authority for Zakat and Tax (GAZT)|
|Refusal to exchange faulty goods or to provide refunds, false advertisement or vague pricing, e-commerce problems or problems with car dealerships||Ministry of Commerce and Investment|
|Poor treatment of employees, sudden dismissal from work, fake job postings or late wages||Ministry of Labor and Social Development|
|Private companies not providing health insurance, or health insurance companies not providing adequate service||Council of Cooperative Health Insurance|
|Problems pertaining to insurance companies or Asset Protection insurance||Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority|
|Impressions or holes near or in front of your residence, or faulty traffic signals||Major Municipalities|
|Mistakes in electric bills, power outages or lack of electric power distribution in your area.||Saudi Electricity Company|
HOW TO FILE WRITTEN COMPLAINTS
No matter what kind of complaint you have, it’s imperative not to initiate immediate communication with your service provider. Instead, be patient and follow these steps:
- Write down the date in which your problem started, for instance your problem may have started after receiving your phone bill for the month of December.
- Gather all the documents that can help you with your complaints such as bills, receipts or contracts. You can also take a phone screenshot of the document if digital copies of the files are required.
- Do not write the complaint in a single paragraph or block, as it could potentially make the recipient of the complaint confused and lost as to what your problem is. Instead write your complaints in bullet points based on a chronological order of the events.
- Clearly and concisely introduce your complaint. For example: On X date, I was unexpectedly charged with a bill of X amount by company X for the duration of X period to X period. I called customer services on X day. My problem has not been addressed yet, despite the fact that I was told that my issue would be resolved by X date at the latest.
- In the last sentence of the complaint, write down the action that you want the company to take, and do not let the company decide for you. For example: I demand a cancellation of the credit card issuance fee and that I only be charged the usual annual fee of X amount.
- Whether you’re complaining through email, phone calls or various social media channels, be prepared to provide as much details as you can and to follow specific procedures.
Alternatively, if you don’t have the patience to deal with the service provider directly, then you can contact the company’s supervisory body. Please note, however, that many problems can be easily and quickly solved by the company’s customer service team. Moreover, if you choose to contact the supervisory body then you would also need to provide the necessary documents and a chronological order of events.
After completing the above steps, you are now ready to submit your complaint, which should be sent directly to the supervisory body of the service provider.
During your free time you could read up on the consumer rights listed by service providers, or you could stay upto date with government bodies that regulate these providers through their various social media pages, that way you could educate yourself on your rights and responsibilities as a consumer. The more aware consumers are, the more likely that service providers will present the best possible product to the market. It is paramount that you don’t ignore your consumer rights, since you’re the one that’s, literally and figuratively, paying the price in the end. As such, you have the undeniable right to receive the finest service.