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Unsolicited Text Messages

THE Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, often gets complaints from telecommunications subscribers about quality of services. NCC has applied sanctions, including asking the companies to make refunds to subscribers for poor services,but subscribers never  get such refunds.

An area NCC has failed to act is  unsolicited text messages (sometimes voice) telecommunication companies send to subscribers. They started as irregular offerings; subscribers still complained that the messages were invading their space.

Things have taken entirely depressing dimensions for subscribers. From the usual offers of caller tunes, down loads of music to new services, the messages are almost about anything – lotteries, property, sales of all manners.

At an NCC 2010 policy review session, complaints about the volume of unsolicited messages sent to subscribers were among the issues considered. Panellists tried to initiate regulations that could give subscribers options of accepting or rejecting inclusion in the mailing lists.

Yet the volume of mails then was nothing compared to today’s deluge. Then the messages were mostly about new services or apologies for poor services. Now matters are out of hand.

Some companies send the same message more than five times daily to some subscribers. The intrusion is more alarming. Messages can be sent at anytime: day, night, midnight, early hours of  the morning.

There are times they arrive in their noisy torrents, yet they are repeats of messages that had been sent earlier. Their frequency defies justification. The fact that they are unsolicited worsens matters.

Deceit is involved too. Some gullible subscribers are informed of fantastic prizes (millions of Naira, cars, houses) that would be theirs once they answer a few questions. They keep answering expensive questions that lead them to nowhere.   Every answered question makes them N100 poorer. The subscriber is awarded points, urged to try again, made to believe that the next effort (at the cost of another N100) would take him to the jackpot. He never gets there.

Other businesses have found their way to these platforms. The offers they make to subscribers are not verifiable. Nobody takes responsibility for the fraud they commit through these messages.

Telecommunication companies at this point appear more interested in money they make from advertising all manners of messages than the interest of their subscribers whose privacy is violated, and who are most times duped.

Something needs to be done urgently to restore the sanity of subscribers who bear the additional frustration of having nowhere to approach for rescue from the invasions. The unauthorised use of subscribers’ numbers for marketing should stop.

NCC has a responsibility to protect telecommunication subscribers from the uses of their telephones as platforms to exploit them. It is time it woke up and applied appropriate regulations to protect subscribers.



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