Better broadband connections from street booths

Top News | Kinling Lo 17 May 2016

Broadband plans offered at street booths by three internet service providers Netvigator, i-Cable and 3Home Broadband are 10 to 45 percent cheaper than online deals, the Consumer Council said.

This comes as the council received over 200 complaints against broadband providers in the first quarter of this year, mainly for unreasonable charges to customers.

The watchdog compared five residential internet providers and found that Netvigator's 24-month plan for 1,000 megabits per second internet was offered for HK$206 a month to public housing tenants who subscribed at street booths.

But the same plan would cost 45 percent more at HK$298 if they signed up online.

Another 24-month 200mbps plan from i-Cable cost HK$174 on the street, but HK$199 online.

At 3Broadband, the 36-month 100mbps plan is HK$10 cheaper in booths. It costs HK$119 online.

The council's chairman of publicity and community relations Michael Hui King-man said two companies buck the trend.

SmarTone offers the same price online and in booths, but gives a HK$20 monthly rebate for online subscriptions, while Hong Kong Broadband Network's online deals were about 22 percent cheaper.

"Customers are always told that the package is offered at a limited time or limited quota but in fact there is very little difference between plan details, gifts or offers during different times. There is no need to rush a decision," Hui said.

He advised customers to pay attention to details of contract terms and to carefully choose a plan suitable to their usage needs.

Hui also criticized the operators for making it difficult for customers to cancel existing contracts.

In one case, a customer was charged nearly HK$4,000 for canceling the contract after they moved to an address not covered by the operator.

The operator recovered the waived installation fee of HK$1,500, gift value at HK$1,900 and cancellation fee of HK$574.

Hui said this was unfair as the operator could not provide the service to the new address.

The council urged the industry to review its code of conduct, and to consider providing a hotline service for canceling services.

Council chief executive Gilly Wong Fung-han said only one provider offered an online form for customers who wanted to terminate their contract.

"Even when customers were asked to go to the shop for a form, the form is only available in particular shops," she said.

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