Despite DAP Serian’s highlighting of the burden and inconvenience caused by giant Telcos with regard to the unscrupulous charges they made on pre-paid services, no support seemed to have been received from the very leaders who opposed the imposition of the 6% service that the Telcos wanted to impose effective 15th September 2011 including BN Federal leaders.
The pre-paid mobile users were relieved when the Minister for Information, Communications and Culture Minister announced on 12/9/2011 that the Telcos agreed to defer the 6% service tax.
What actually happened was a nightmare to pre-paid mobile users. It became a burden and inconvenience to them.
Their hope now is hoping that this matter be highlighted, hoping the authorities will act and protect them. They came to DAP service center in Serian, one after another, each day to complain.
Now they are dismayed upon learning that they are being deducted very much more for services that they should not at all be paying.
This came to light when the users found out that every top-up amount they made were used up in a very short period of time. The validity of their top-up credits was also shortened. This means that even though there is credit balance in their phone the line cannot be used because the validity period has expired.
Previously a major Telco company charged 09 sen for any call that is auto-replied, unreachable numbers or engaged numbers. The user is charged even if he cuts the line in a matter or a second or two. Since 16th September 2011, it was found that this charge was increased to 28 sen. Another major Telco even increases the charge to 36 sen.
Actually these calls should not be charged at all. It’s a matter of no service provided. The line is unreachable or engaged or the other end doesn’t pick up the phone, so there is no service provided.
DAP Serian made a simple calculation on the statement made by the Minister regarding the service tax that these major Telcos were paying to the government in the past 12 years.
He said that since 1998 to 2010, a period of 12 years, the Telcos paid to the government a service tax amounting to RM6b on pre-paid taxes alone. Everyone knows the major service providers are Celcom, Digi and Maxis.
The Minister further said that all in all, there were 26 million customers. If a major player is having a third of the users that would be 8.5 million. And if half of these are using prepaid services, actually more is estimated, that translated to 4 million prepaid users.
If we are to imagine that a third is paid by any of these major players in the past 12 years, that translates to RM2b. Divide that amount by the number of months in the past 12 years, each Telco pays the government RM1.38m per month for the pre-paid users as service tax.
Let’s calculate how much they rake in by charging just 09 sen for unanswered calls, engaged lines or unreachable numbers. If a user buys a credit of RM10 and was charged for 10 calls, that would amount to RM0.90. Multiply that with the 4 million users that would amount to RM3.6 m per month.
This is nuts compared to the RM1.38 million that they pay as service tax to the government. Why are the Telcos saying that they have been over generous by paying on behalf of the users when in fact they are reaping much more from the customers? With the increase to RM0.28, they are certainly raking in more than three times the amount. What a scam.
A parent who used to top up RM30 for two week usage found his credit finished in just four days. Another user who used to purchase RM10 complained that his credit was used up in just two days. Connectivity in the rural areas is poor which causes a lot of computer general replies and they are charged.
Another matter that annoys the prepaid users is the validity period of their credit top-up. For a top-up of RM5, the validity is just two days. Parents used to purchase RM5 for their children and they expect to use the credit to call towards the weekend. But they can’t use their credit anymore. For a RM10 top-up, the validity is 6 days, meaning that the line cannot be used the following week.
Prepaid mobile users are hoping that the authorities put a stop to all these ill-treatment. They would like the Telcos to extend their top-up validity to at least a week for a small top-up and two weeks for a RM10 top-up. The pre-paid users are mainly the poor and students.
24 Nov. 2011