By Adedeji Fakorede
President National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, has suggested ways out of the increasing incidence of unsolicited text messages estimated to be costing subscribers N360 billion annually. Ogunbanjo that telecoms operators in Nigeria have been ripping off subscribers to the tune of N360 billion annually through the unwanted text messages and surreptitious credit depletion.
According to him, one of the ways to curb the trend is to stipulate heavy sanction for telecoms operators that ‘secretly deduct their customers’ credit all in the name of charging them for an SMS that they have not subscribed to.” He said that until this is done, the operators may continue to rip off subscribers in several ways such as ‘a-little-at-a-time credit depletion syndrome’, ‘a little everyday credit depletion syndrome’, ‘automatic data credit removal syndrome’, ‘ringtone, jobs & other services depletion syndrome’ as well as ‘borrow-me credit over-deduction syndrome,’ among others.”
He said unsolicited or spam texts are SMS not asked for, not requested for, not demanded for and not canvassed for by subscribers. In Nigeria, unsolicited SMS is believed to be a modern scourge, plaguing mobile phones with unwanted adverts and offers, often from network operators and dodgy companies.
According to him, telecoms operators in Nigeria are regularly taking advantage of subscribers on their network in many ways. He noted that in view of the credit/data depletion and deduction, many subscribers, after complaining to the network operator and the same thing repeats itself, had become frustrated in view of the cost of seeking a legal redress to enforce his/her consumer rights. Ogunbanjo said: “Unsolicited messages should be stopped because we don’t want them.
“They are so disturbing. Unsolicited SMS is a credit-eating virus, created and inflicted on subscribers by network operators in Nigeria. “Network operators send several forms of unsolicited SMS like Automatic Data Plan Renewal to their subscribers, who do not ask for the service and deduct the service cost from credit without the subscribers consent.
“We do not have any evidence yet in Nigeria that replying ‘STOP’ to such a message will stop further unsolicited texts. “The first step according to the regulator’s guideline is to report it to your network operator who may be able to prevent further unsolicited SMS from the originating number or from the network operator itself.”