PTCL subscribers find it a 'cutpurse' package: Call duration reduction -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

PTCL subscribers find it a ‘cutpurse’ package: Call duration reduction

LAHORE, June 1: The Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited subscribers are enduring the burden of the management’s decision to cut the call duration from five to two minutes as most of them have to pay ‘doubleÂ’ the amount of average monthly bill with effect from May.

According to a source, a good number of PTCL subscribers from across the country have applied for ‘disconnection’ owing primarily to this reason. “We canÂ’t stick to the PTCL landline any more when the cellular companies continue to reduce their rates,” says Asif Masood of Gulshan-i-Ravi, who has opted for disconnection of its PTCL connection for what he says “getting rid’ of paying double the amount for the facility”.

A number of PTCL subscribers told Dawn that they had received the April’s bill with more than double the amount of previous charges, though the number of calls remained more or less the same.

Effective April 1, the PTCL management had cut the call duration from five to two minutes between 8am and 9pm.

Fraz Ahmed of Walton Colony said the April’s landline bill he received in May was Rs1,700 whereas during the previous months his average bill was less than Rs1,000.

Sheikh Hanif of Walled City said he had received April’s bill with a payable amount of Rs1,000, though the average monthly bill he had previously been paying was not more than Rs500.

Similar concerns were expressed by Nasir Khalid of Township, Imran Ali of Wapda Town and Javed Akhtar of Faisal Town.

In a recent development, the PTCL management has also started charging for its inquiry (17) and the move is widely being criticised.

According to the PTCL Union Action Committee, more than 900,000 subscribers of the company have switched to other networks since the new management took over about two years ago.

It says if the company continues to impose anti-subscriber policies, more of them are likely to switch to other networks. “In order to generate maximum revenue, the company is taking such steps,” it maintains. The union has, however, appreciated the management for introducing free call between 11pm and 6am.

Earlier, the PTCL had also started charging ‘silently’ a new call rate after every 15 minutes on the Internet users on a dial-up connection using any non-PTCL ISP (Internet Service Provider). However, it had to withdraw it on the public outcry.

Last year, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had received over 14,000 complaints against the PTCL, which were over 20 per cent more than the number in the corresponding period. According to the PTA, the main concern of a majority of the subscribers was the staff behaviour and poor complaint handling. The other complaints related to poor or no response on request for new telephone connections, over-billing and malfunctioning of remote area exchanges. Even the PTA mentioned in its 2007 report that the PTCL had been “losing its subscribers to WLL and mobile phone sectors. There had been a drop of almost 297,835 connections of the PTCL in just one year”.

Contacted by Dawn, PTCL Lahore spokesman Jawad Hasan said he was not authorised to speak on the issue while PTCL General Manager (Cooperate Communication) Ansar Bhatti was not available for a comment.

Source: Dawn