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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Phone card leftovers targeted in Thailand

The Federation of Consumer Organisations gave mobile telecommunication operators in Thailand notice that they may face legal action if they can't adequately clarify business practices concerning leftover minutes on prepaid calling cards, according to the Bangkok Post.

The non-profit FTO is threatening to file suit against both private- and state-run enterprises for unfair treatment of prepaid calling card users, the media outlet said. It quoted telecom researcher Anuparb Thiralarp as saying that the telecom providers treat such users like second-class citizens tied to substandard service contracts.

Reportedly the contracts include:

  • A wide variance of 30 days to one year that "refill" cards are valid; if subscribers do not use up all the call value on cards within the time period, they must reload cards to continue to use the service, regardless of how much call value is leftover on the cards
  • The inability of customers to transfer unused call value balances between carriers

According to Thiralarp, mobile operators keep billions of bhat (the currency of Thailand) from unused funds left on prepaid SIM cards, the Bangkok Post said. The news organization added that Thailand has 69 million mobile phone users, with 90 percent of them using prepaid phones and ancillary prepaid card services. end of article

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