Acting on mounting complaints against “vanishing load,” senators on Monday moved to protect prepaid mobile-phone subscribers against scrupulous value-added service (VAS) providers offering assorted “promos” to prey on and eat up prepaid load of cell-phone users.
Interviewed after presiding over a joint hearing of the Senate Committees on Science and Technology and on Public Services, Sen. Paulo Benigno Aquino IV sought firm commitments from private telecommunication companies—Globe and Smart—as well as the government’s telco regulators, to step up efforts to protect rights of mobile subscribers.
One solution reached at the joint committee hearing is for telco companies to promptly indicate remaining balance of prepaid cell-phone users every time telcos deduct from their load for services rendered.
“A clearer solution to the vanishing load was presented at the hearing; for every load deducted to a cell-phone user, there will be an automatic notice through text messages, such as VAS deductions,” Aquino said. “For every VAS transaction, there is an immediate notification,” he added.
Aquino affirmed the most basic solution to the vanishing load problem is for cell-phone subscribers to receive immediate information on their load wallet.
He confirmed that the telcos had committed to restore the practice of “automatic balance information” after making calls, adding that the senators expect additional solutions and comments from telcos at the next committee hearing before the end of March.
This developed as Sen. Nancy Binay also suggested that victimized prepaid cell- phone users complaining against unexplained vanishing loads could still go to court if they do not get redress from their telcos.
“Estafa is classified as a criminal offense,” Binay added.
For its part, Department of Trade and Industry officials clarified to the Senate committee any violation by telcos entails a P3,000 fine, which senators found to be “very small for a giant telco.”