NTC moves to end ‘nakaw’ load
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) may soon require the country’s two major telco companies to give prepaid subscribers daily updates on their remaining load credits.
The NTC is planning to include this measure, among several other items, in a new memorandum it hopes will lower or even end cases of vanishing credits, otherwise known as “nakaw load”. This has been a sore point for many prepaid subscribers, which account for about 95 percent of the country’s mobile market.
NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgrado Cabarios said in a Senate hearing on Monday that the new memorandum would be ready by June or July this year.
Other safeguards to be included were tighter signup protocols for outside businesses such as value added service (VAS) providers and a universal opt out feature. The latter would allow a mobile user to cancel all VAS subscriptions with a single command.
Some of these extra features have been adopted by the telcos, however, a directive from the NTC would institutionalize these changes.
Officials from PLDT Inc., which owns Smart Communications, and Globe Telecom said during the hearing they were open to the measures and will study their technical implications.
“It’s reached the point where everyone agrees there is a problem,” Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, chair of the committee on science and technology, said on Monday. “We can finally put an end to nakaw load.”
Under the current practice, prepaid users can only get a summary of their credits if they request this from their telco service provider.
By making the update automatic and regular from the end of the telco, the NTC hopes that consumers would be able to catch cases of vanishing load that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
“If they do not file a compliant after 30 days, the load [amount] is considered ‘ok’,” Cabarios said as he descried the proposed measures.
The NTC also wants a multi-step verification process to ensure that customers do not accidentally enroll to paid VAS providers, or fall prey to potential unscrupulous practices by these companies.
The focus on VAS providers during the Senate hearing was on account of a nakaw load issue exposed by Globe subscriber Feanne Hontiveros Mauricio last Jan. 30, 2018.
Mauricio tracked and documented unwarranted deductions of prepaid credits over a period of several months. Her account of the issue went viral on social media.
It was since revealed that she had enrolled, without her knowledge, to VAS provider GotDeals Mobile Inc., which eventually issued an apology. After investigating the matter, the NTC revoked the certificate of registration of GotDeals.
Yoly Crisanto, head of corporate communications at Globe, said during the hearing that Globe has reimbursed consumers affected by GotDeals and implemented a three step process so that subscribers are well-informed about enrolling with VAS providers.
“The thing with GotDeals is it wasn’t business as usual,” she said. “They [ our customers] have to know we are looking after them.”
Some consumers maintained that other cases of vanishing credits were happening in other instances.
This was shown during Monday’s hearing, when consumer-guest Armie Torres demonstrated incremental deductions to her prepaid balance with each attempt to call Globe’s customer service hotline.
Such calls should be free of charge, Cabarios said during the hearing. Globe officials said they will address the issue.
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