Iwas 'nakaw-load': Telcos urged to notify users of credit deduction

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 06 2018 08:35 AM | Updated as of Mar 06 2018 11:13 AM

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MANILA - Telecommunications firms should notify prepaid subscribers of all mobile load deductions real-time, Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV said Tuesday.

Aquino, who heads the Senate science and technology committee, made the suggestion amid numerous consumer complaints on the disappearance of the prepaid credits, hidden charges or errors in opt out mechanisms.

He said telcos admitted during a committee hearing Monday that prepaid load is sometimes eaten up by value-added services.

VAS, he said, are non-core services or those beyond text and call transmissions. Unknown load deductions may happen when users click on the pop-up buttons or advertisement links of VAS providers.

Unwanted credit deductions from VAS can be prevented if telcos notify users of their load balance in every transaction, said Aquino.

"Ang pinakamadali talaga, bawat transaksyon ng ating mga subscriber, may nakukuha silang notification o text, 'Your balance is now ganito.' Para mayroon po tayong parang resibo," he told radio DZMM.

(The easiest solution is for subscribers to get a notification or text saying, 'Your balance is now this much' for every transaction. This will serve as our receipt of sorts.)

The firms, he said, should also have an opt-out scheme where consumers can confirm or cancel the VAS they avail.

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Major telcos have promised to run a program to notify subscribers real time of their load consumption, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said in a separate DZMM interview.

Other countries, she said, are already employing this scheme.

The firms and DTI have also agreed to penalize "unethical" VAS providers, Aquino added.

Some VAS providers post deceitful advertisements that lead to automatic load deductions when closed by subscribers, the senator noted, citing a resource person during Monday's Senate hearing.

There are some 200 accredited VAS providers that share their revenues with telcos, firms had confirmed in the inquiry, said Aquino.

Around 97 percent or some 126 million of the country's 130 million mobile phone accounts are prepaid, he earlier said, citing data from the National Telecommunications Commission.