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Thu 9 Feb 2012 11:08 AM

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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
Bahrain telco Viva ordered to stop charging cancellation fees
Mobile phone subscribers in Bahrain reached about 1.7 million by the end of 2011

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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Sam 8 years ago

Few may notice, but Etisalat is bringing its Pakistan practices home to the UAE.

Etisalat's Pakistan operations (Ufone) is notorious for this. it is well known that they push services on to subscribers and then charge them at will. The main target of this are the pre-paid subscribers which constitute almost 95% of all subscribers and who have NO way of knowing what they are charged for since there are no bills ever issued. If you visit their offices to have these services cancelled, they ask you to call Customer Services, which very few bother calling cos it costs money to call them, and you could be on hold for hours.

So, its then cheaper to just accept the charge they slap on you, and suffer in silence.

truecanadian5021019 8 years ago

Sam no one will one notice here in Canada and could care less.Canadians try to say out of domestic issues clearly you are not a Canadian identify your self for who you are, or are you ashamed. "I am Canadian" what are you dude.

Sam 8 years ago

I am surprised you are approving and posting comments that can be deemed as attacks on ones personal integrity; and have NOTHING to do about the article in question.

May I suggest you be more professional and refrain from approving non-relevant comments and those that are of a personal nature, as it reflects poorly on your publication.

charles 8 years ago

It is a perfectly reasonable question from the true Canadian.

if you read your comments to others on the many subjects you have posted on AB, you will find that you have not been the example of probity you wish others had been to you.

Sam 8 years ago

TrueCanadians comment make no sense since we are all reading AB. If he truly "cared less" then he would not be here (on this site reading and posting comments) in the first place.

Lets agree to disagree on your comment re "example of probity". One of the basic rules of civilization is "Do unto others as you would like to do unto you". If we as Canadians can not respect Saudi law, then why should we expect them to respect our laws? Mutual self respect and calling an apple and apple (without letting our prejudices,and (I am sad to say) superiority complex, play a part), is all I try to get across to fellow readers of AB.

Funny really that many seem to have an issue (and a disbelief) that I am a (white) Muslim Canadian. The fact I am Muslim makes me NO LESS CANADIAN - even as per the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But the (often not so subtle) prejudice I sense makes me sad indeed for my fellow Canadians.

procan 8 years ago

Well Sam, my man, did not take long for you to run to the protection of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms eh. The difference between Sam and procan is I extend Canadian Human rights and freedoms to all people regardless who they are or where they are from or what faith they are.