BY EMMANUEL ELEBEKE
In an apparent response to incessant complaints by subscribers over billing irregularities, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has directed all telecommunication operators in the country to provide instant SMS service to all phone users at the end of every call, and to provide full details of the cost of each call, and available balances to the subscriber.
The directive was contained in statement issued yesterday and signed by the Head, Media and Public Relations, NCC, Mr. Reuben Muoka in Abuja.
This service according to NCC is free to all subscribers with the commencement date for all the operators fixed for November 1, 2012.
According to the statement, any operator which fails to commence the service to its subscribers will be liable to fine in the sum of N5million as sanction and a further sum of N500,000 per day as long as the contravention persists.
The Commission has in a directive issued since August 2012, mandated that from 1st of November, 2012, all mobile operators shall send, free of charge, a message or an alert to both postpaid 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 Direction mandates the subscribers 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 postpaid customers; Cost of services and Credit balance upon request by customer for data service.
The Direction issued to the operators, according to NCC 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.