By Oji Odu
Abba Ukpai is an angry 9mobile subscriber. Why? The way the network bombards his mobile telephone on daily basis with unsolicited text messages has become a thing of worry. “ For some months now, the network has continued to steal N20 daily from my account for games I never subscribed to, which makes a total of N620 monthly.
“ Even after severally sending the 5510 stop code from 9mobile, the messages of nuisance have continued. Unfortunately also, since I sent the NCC 2442 stop code, the messages seem to have increased, even after assuring me that it would be effected after 24 hours. My situation has become so pathetic that these messages most times disturb my night sleep,” he lamented.
Alhaji SikiruAlamu, also a 9mobile subscriber lamented thus: “The network has encouraged the menace. I used to get messages I don’t want, even very early in the morning. For example, a particular message with 361 as Code showing: Hello your VideoStore subscription has been renewed. Service costs N20/day. To download videos click http://videostore.ng. To unsubscribe, text STOP to 6363. I sent STOP several times, but the message kept coming. I don’t know what to do again.”
Maggie Udoh, Airtel subsciber lamented that she was always receiving many text messages she never subscribed. She told the Magazine that each time these messages are sent to her phone, “ Airtel deducts N50 from my airtime which they claim is for the ring tune I subscribed to. When?
This is not only fraudulent but unjust because I never subscribed to any caller ring back tune,” she said.
MTN and Globacom are not exonerated from this as their customers are also lamenting this fraud. For instance, an MTN subscriber, Tunji Adenike said the problem is a planned one to rip-off the customers for years now.
“Almost everyday in 2016 I received the message: “MTN Gadget Care”. I called 180, they asked me to press some buttons, which I did, but the message kept coming and they kept deducting money from my account which is the sad thing. It is however pathetic that anytime they stopped one crazy text message, another one appears from them also,” he stated.
He further lamented that this problem has continued even with NCC’s 2441 stop code which he believes is faulty and not working, although a good move to stop it. “ Maybe, they are in league with NCC,” he added.
The Magazine’s findings reveal that following much complaints by subscribers on the menace of unsolicited text messages and voice calls from mobile operators, in pursuant of Section 53 of the Nigerian Communications Act, NCC, in May 2016, barred mobile number operators from sending out unsolicited text messages to subscribers. Consequently, the Commission gave the network operators up till June 30, 2016 to stop sending unsolicited text messages or calls to subscribers or face a N5 million fine if they failed to comply with the directive, and N500, 000 per day additional fine for as long as the operator continued to flout the directive.
A total of 13 MNOs were issued with the directive. They include MTN, Airtel, Smile, Etisalat, Globacom and Visafone.
Others are Starcomms, Megatech Engineering Limited, Gicell Wireless Limited, Danjay Telecoms, Gamjitel, Multilinks and Natcom. These operators were asked to set up the NCC short code of 2442 for subscribers to opt-in to the “Do Not Disturb” (DND) database restricting unsolicited marketing messages.
According to the commission, it shall be mandatory for mobile operators to create sufficient awareness to its subscribers on the existence of the DND on their networks. They shall also comply with the quarterly and reporting template prescribed by the NCC to ensure feedback and compliance.
Unfortunately, The Source found out that most mobile telecommunication subscribers are ignorant of NCC’s 2442 ‘ Do Not Disturb’ stop code. It also learnt that the operators have not created considerable awareness to their customers on the stop code, leading to the increased complaints by over 12 million subscribers on the issue to the NCC.
But James Egboh, a civil servant told the Magazine in a chat: “ There is the 2442 code, but the problem is that even after applying, it is not effected after the 24 hours time they said it will. So, who is fooling who? It is either NCC is involved in the operators scam or they should buckle up and make it effective. They should also create more awareness on the stop code to stop the rip-off of the overburdened subscribers.”