Senate bill seeks to ban expiration of prepaid, e-load
MANILA, Philippines – A Senate bill seeks to prohibit telecommunication companies from imposing expiration dates on mobile and landline prepaid and electronic load.
Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto filed Senate Bill 848 or the “Prepaid Load Protection Act of 2016,” which aims to ensure that every peso spent for prepaid load is “saved and usable” until fully consumed.
The measure seeks to protect consumers against “deceptive, unfair, and unconscionable sales act and practices,” Recto said.
Aside from prohibiting the imposition of expiration period, the bill also bans the forfeiture of load credits stored on an active prepaid phone account both via prepaid cards or electronic load (e-load).
The measure also mandates companies to refund any subscriber who lost load credits without a valid cause.
Under the proposed bill, violators will face penalty of at least P100,000 to P1 million or imprisonment for 2 to 6 years, depending on the court’s decision.
If the violation is done to benefit a business person, the company’s license may be revoked.
Recto and former Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago filed similar versions of the bill in 2014 and 2009, respectively. In both cases, the bill only reached first reading.
Waste of subscribers’ money
Citing data from the National Telecommunications Commission, Recto said 80% of the estimated 100 million mobile users in the Philippines are prepaid subscribers.
While the prepaid subscription scheme is affordable, Recto lamented how users are denied full value for their money.
“There have been rampant complaints that prepaid subscribers do not get the full value of the load credits that they paid for because of the expiration of prepaid call and text cards and forfeiture of unutilized load credits,” Recto said in his bill.
Expiration dates should be abolished as it only burdens consumers while generating additional income for companies.
Current expiration period of prepaid call and text cards, Recto said, is two years while electronic load’s validity ranges from 3 days to 120 days depending on the amount.
“This means that unused prepaid cards will no longer work after two years and that unutilized load credits will be forfeited after their corresponding expiration period; hence, a waste of prepaid subscriber’s money and additional income for the telecommunications company,” he said. – Rappler.com