Wrong charges by cellular networks
IT is unfortunate that some mobile phone networks have developed an underhand system to fleece customers of their money. They operate as follows: the post-paid bill reminders start coming by sms with increasing frequency as soon as 70 per cent of the amount taken in advance from the customer has been used up.
Each reminder asks the customer to remit the used-up amount as soon as possible for continued service. When, however, the customer pays up, the acknowledgement of the amount received is deliberately delayed. Now in all likelihood the customer will send a return sms to assert that the payment has been made and to ask for acknowledgement. The moment such a reply is given, a new number informs the customer that his subscription for some cricket tournament updates has been accepted against a charge of Rs10 plus tax, which he may unsubscribe from by sending an sms to yet another number, at an additional cost of Rs2 plus tax.
This, of course, means a compulsory deduction of Rs16 from the unsuspecting customer’s money, whereas he had never actually subscribed for any updates of any tournament. Any inquiries or demands for refund of ‘stolen’ money, made through mobile phone calls to the company, will of course be charged from the customer’s credit balance. The system thus successfully steals almost Rs30 from every customer who opens a so-called ‘post-paid’ mobile phone account.
I had a bad experience of this extortion recently after I made a payment of Rs1,200 at Lahore DHA’s main boulevard service centre of a mobile network and tried to get confirmation by sms from the very number that had been sending me reminders. On my protest, the branch officer directed me to register my complaint and after lengthy discussion I was finally told that though the money charged to me for cricket updates service and for its ‘un-subscription’ could not be refunded, my complaint would very graciously be sent to the head office but, as per the company’s policy, no written/sms intimation of that communication could be given to me for my record.
In my opinion, such behaviour on the part of the mobile phone network is nothing less than unabashed, daylight robbery. As a matter of fact, the advance money taken from the customers for the so-called ‘post-paid service’ is held by the company for the specific purpose of the customer’s intentional calls.
I would request the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority to take notice of this matter and order refund of all such illegal deductions made from customers’ money by deliberately programming mobile phone service computers with ill intention.
LIAQAT ALI TOOR – Lahore