Bahrain telco Viva ordered to stop charging cancellation fees

The operator is also liable to refund customers after charging BD1,500 for termination of services
Bahrain telco Viva ordered to stop charging cancellation fees
A visitor takes pictures with his mobile phone as he stands next to an artwork to be auctioned off by Sothebys at Arts of the Islamic World during a preview exhibition at a hotel in Doha
By Elizabeth Broomhall
Thu 09 Feb 2012 11:08 AM

Bahrain telecoms company Viva has been ordered to immediately stop charging customers for terminating its mobile special number service amid reports that the new term was not approved by the country’s teleco regulator.

Viva, the popular mobile phone operator wholly owned by Saudi Telecom Co (STC), has been charging customers a massive BD1,500 ($3,979) in order to halt the service, which the telecoms regulatory authority (TRA) says could have a negative effect on the market.

Under the directive, the telco is also required to refund customers where appropriate. 

“VIVA Bahrain did not notify TRA of the unapproved term before it implemented it,” said the TRA in a statement. “All telecommunications licensees are required by their licenses to notify TRA of modifications to their standard subscriber agreements for TRA’s approval.

“The TRA was also concerned that the unapproved term would impede the uptake of the mobile number portability service in Bahrain, and negatively impact consumer choice and competition.

“Any subscriber that has been charged the BD1,500 for terminating the service is also entitled to a refund.”

According to the order, Viva should ensure that the unapproved term is removed from any new copies of its application form by 17 February 2012.

However, the TRA made clear that Viva is still free to submit the terms and conditions of the service to the TRA for formal review.

“Once that has gone through due process other fees may be imposed under the approved terms and conditions.”

UAE telcos Etisalat and du faced similar issues last month when the emirates’ TRA said they could not collect any cancellation fee from customers for services they did not request in the first place.

The announcement came following complaints for subscribers who were receiving bills between AED100 and AED200 for the termination of services which they never subscribed to.

The TRA said telecom operators were not permitted to impose fees on customers without their prior approval.

It said mobile operators should not assume that a non-rejection of an offer was an acceptance, and subsequently enroll subscribers to those services.

It also stressed their obligations to protect mobile phone users from deception, and the importance of proper customer-communication.

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