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Monday, 05 November 2012 00:00
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Operators to pay N5m over failure to provide instant call bills

Henceforth, mobile telephone operators that did not provide instant SMS service to all phone users at the end of every call risk a fine of N5 million.

Mobile operators are expected by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to provide details of each call cost as well as the balance left in the user’s call credit.

However, investigation showed that some operators in their bid to swindle subscribers do not alert subscribers of their call credit as well as the balance left thereby forcing the regulator, NCC issue a new directive that comes with penalty.

According to a statement from the commission, the fresh directive is meant to curb subscriber complaints over billing irregularities stating,“This service is free to all subscribers with the commencement date for all the operators fixed for November 1, 2012.

“Any operator which fails to commence the service to its subscribers  will be liable to fine in the sum of N5,000,000 as sanction and a further sum of N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) per day as long as the contravention persists”.

The statement, which was signed by the Head, Media and Public Relation of the NCC, Mr. Reuben Muoka said, “All mobile operators shall send, free of charge, a message or an alert to both post-paid and prepaid subscribers after every call, SMS, or system generated charge or tariff, with a proviso that a subscriber can opt out if he or she so wishes”.

The directive mandated: “the opertors to send messages containing six critical information including: exact duration of the call minutes and seconds, total cost for each call or SMS; customer accounts balance after the last call for prepaid and SMS; customer account balance after a charge or tariff and the reason for the charge or tariff; cumulative call charges up to the last call within the charging period for post-paid customers; cost of services and credit balance upon request by customer for data service”.

The Direction issued to the operators is in line with the provisions of Section 53(1) of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003. This direction is a response to one of the major concerns of the subscribers as it relates to the actual amounts deducted from their credit balances by the service providers for each call or SMS sent.

With this direction, subscribers are empowered to promptly discover any anomaly in their bills, and will be able to prove if they are billed for calls that they did not make.