July 4, 2009
The National Telecommunications Commission must “do more” than extend the expiry of prepaid load to decisively end the issue of “vanishing prepaid load” that is bedeviling the country’s more than 70 million mobile phone subscribers.
In a press conference, consumer advocacy group TXTPower.org Inc. (TXTPower) said that “the absurdly short expiry load, arguably the shortest in the whole world, is the least of consumers’ problems. To solve “vanishing load”, the NTC must exercise its powers to immediately lower rates for cellphone calls, text messaging and other mobile phone services. The NTC must also crack down on telcos and content providers that abuse their licenses by sending millions of spam messages,” said TXTPower president Anthony Ian Cruz.
“Prepaid load quickly gets lost or stolen because of the high cost of placing cellphone calls. The NTC, unfortunately, has not exercised its powers to reduce rates in favor of the public. All it does is to bless the promotional offerings of telcos that may be pulled out whimsically and capriciously,” said Cruz.
Cruz said that Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s case illustrates the problems faced by consumers daily.
“The Senate President is lucky. He immediately got a refund even without asking for it,” said Cruz, adding that “but for the rest of us whose prepaid load are stolen by the millions through high prices, spam and short expiry, we don’t have any recourse.”
Cruz said it is now studying ways for consumers to get refunds from the “vanishing loads”.
Make “unlimited calls, texting” permanent services
According to TXTPower, the NTC should compel telcos to finally offer “unlimited calls” and “unlimited texting” as permanent, not promotional, offers.
“The telcos have recovered the old investments on which the current pricing for calls, text and other services had been based. It is about time the NTC and the government compel these telcos to make the public benefit through ‘unlimited calls’ and ‘unlimited texting’ which are standard offers of many telcos across the world,” said Cruz.
“This should not prejudice moves towards per-six second charging, which has long been demanded by consumers,” said Cruz.
The NTC, Cruz explained, is “so addicted to its false belief that the industry’s deregulation means that it has no powers to champion consumer welfare and that it should only support the telcos.”
“It is thus no surprise that consumers are left to fend for themselves, so much unlike the Senate President, who has mobilized the power of the Senate and his office to lay bare the issues,” said Cruz.
TXTPower also called on Senate President Enrile and Senator Mar Roxas, whose committee leads the Senate hearings on telco issues, to consult with consumers and to include consumers in the technical working groups that are being formed.
“The NTC, for instance, has routinely failed to adequately inform consumers and end-users of public hearings on its draft circulars, including the latest one on the expiry of prepaid load,” said Cruz.
“Only the telcos were consulted,” said Cruz.
TXTPower Action Center, Kabataan YouTube video
TXTPower vowed to keep the pressure on government to act on consumer demands through various means.
Kabataan partylist congressman Mong Palatino today unveiled a YouTube video encouraging students and youth to report their complaints to the NTC and to TXTPower.
The Computer Professionals Union (CPU) meanwhile also launched today the TXTPower Action Center which aims to receive consumer complaints through the following contact points: Website http://www.cp-union.com/txtpowercenter, Text 0907-1134503 and Landline (02) 4134196. ###