As anyone who has ever owned a cell phone in china knows, dealing with the big telecom providers can be a pain; their customer service usually consists of answers such as “我不太清楚”(I’m not really sure) or “很抱歉我们的系统正在升级中”(sorry our system is currently undergoing an upgrade.)
When I was in Beijing trying to buy a new SIM card that would allow my brand new Treo 650 connect to the Internet, I was told repeatedly by China Mobile reps that the M-Zone or 动感地带 plan which had the cheapest online rates, was currently unavailable to new customers due a system upgrade. I was told that my only option was to buy the GoTone cell phone plan, which was far more expensive than the MZone plan. Although I am fairly sure they were just trying to get me to fork out more money!
But, thanks to the efforts of Ms. Li and the dissatisfaction of most likely a hundred million or so Chinese, there may be hope that this kind of lousy service could be fixed! But wait, there are only 2 or 3 State Owned telecom providers in China (Rumor has it that taizi or children of high CCP officials own and control these companies) that have an absolute monopoly over the market, so in reality nothing is going to happen unless there is some sort of privatization.
I translated this from chinese, original can be found here
In a first, China Mobile is Sued for Violation of “Communications Freedom”
by Wang Xiao Yan
Without being notified, China Mobile unilaterally suspended Beijing resident Ms. Li’s cell phone service for over 9 days. After complaining without avail, Ms. Li thus took China Mobile to court for violating her right to telecommunications freedom. Beijing City DongCheng District People’s Court has already decided to hear this case in court.
On 1/31/2007, Ms. Li realized that her cell phone was unable to make calls, the screen continuously displayed the characters for “currently searching,” even switching cell phones didn’t work. Realizing it might not be a problem with her cell phone, Ms. Li immediately went to a China Mobile sales hall for consultation. The salesperson subsequently told Ms. Li that there was no problem with her mobile card, but due to current upgrades in their system, her signal had been stopped. The sales agent further explained that they didn’t know when the system upgrade would be complete, so the only way for Ms. Li to resume her cell phone service would be to change SIM cards. But when changing cards, Ms. Li was informed that she had to pay a 10 RMB card change fee. Unable to come to an agreement, Ms. Li dialed 10086 (China Mobile service hotline). Finally the telephone operator indicated that she could change her card for free, and stated that she would receive 30 RMB of free service, but expressed that this was not a compensation for her 9 days without service.
Ms. Li was not satisfied with the 30 RMB reparations for her discontinued service. “Due to being unable to use a cell phone for nine entire days, contacting many relatives and friends was difficult, it even created misunderstanding, yet the provider didn’t provide any reasonable explanation or notification, and when I dealt with them I felt China Mobile was very arrogant, so I believe they violated my right of to communications freedom!
On 2/5/07 Ms. Li submitted her case to court, demanding China Mobile assume responsibility for violating her right to communications freedom, compensate for all sorts of loss, and make a formal apology. But when Ms. Li’s lawyer Kou MingGuo went to the court to submit the suit, the court explained to him the it could not accept this case because “communication freedom” was not within the realm of the courts, and was informed that only if the plaintiff changed the charges to “telecom contract dispute” would they put the case on file. After changing the charges, the court formally accepted the case.
But after changing the main charges in the case, the plaintiffs fight for the upholding of the right of “communications freedom” will create definite difficulty in the courts. Legal representative Kou Mingguo expressed they will not change the original lawsuit requests, “We want to express what our goals are; that is our lawsuit is not only asking for compensation for damages, more importantly, it shows how we take seriously the communications rights of small and weak citizens, and their dissatisfaction and protest with regards to how the accused uses its monopoly status to disregard the rights and interests of consumers.”