Lawmaker seeks to remove cell phone load expiry

Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - June 9, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The days of vanishing or expiring mobile phone loads may now be numbered.

Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo has filed a bill to bar telecommunications companies (telcos) from imposing expiry dates on call and text cards and forfeiting load credits.

Prepaid credit expiry “is a form of robbery of consumers since the phone services are already paid for in advance and thus mobile phone users subjected to the limit in the use of their credits do not get the full value of the money they spent,” he said.

He said Filipinos send around one billion text messages a day, making the Philippines the world’s texting capital.

“These companies already earn a huge profit from those messages. Imposing a time limit on the use of call and text credits is the height of corporate greed since it forces consumers to buy a bigger amount just to have a longer expiration date,” he added.

Castelo said the recent National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) order for prepaid cards worth at least P300 to have a one-year validity “discriminates against the poor who can only afford less prepaid loads.”

The Castelo bill seeks to prohibit the imposition of an expiration period on the validity of unused prepaid call and text cards, forfeiture of load credits stored in an active prepaid phone account and refusal to give a refund to prepaid subscribers whose load credits were forfeited without any valid cause.

It provides penalties for violators, including imprisonment of up to six years, a P500,000 fine and revocation of the telco’s license.    

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