Th Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) have been petitioned over alleged fraudulent acts by the Global System for Mobile communication, GSM companies particularly, MTN Nigeria.
In a letter to the Executive Vice chairman, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, the petitioner, Mr. Carl Umegboro, a lawyer and public affairs analyst, lambasted the GSM company over copious fraudulent flash messages from the network strategically automated to forcefully siphon money from their vulnerable subscribers with sundry deductions in disguise of service subscriptions.
“The moment your hand touches the handset, especially those programmed to accept OK by touch of any button, monetary deductions will commence. Worse, some of the subscriptions are on daily, weekly and bi-monthly basis. Or if you click ‘OK’ for the message to disappear from your screen, you’re activated to the subscription. Is this not MMM re-branded? Imagine where such posts are sent to 50 million subscribers and N50 or N100 or whatever amounts are deducted, I leave the calculations for you.
“It, therefore, implies that even if your hand touches your handset mistakenly or while in the pocket or with a child, the ‘OK’ programmed after the posts will be activated against you with deductions as a bona fide subscriber to the unsolicited messages until you detect and complain.
“The bad side is that once deduction is made, it is nonrefundable. Please, tell me how a subscriber can decode what the “OK” implies how much less market women or illiterate persons that are unable to read except to make calls knowing that ‘Ok’ is relative; could mean ‘seen, read, noted’, etc?
“In a civilised society, to subscribe to paid services, designated codes are provided at the end and not “OK” so that whoever wishes to subscribe can do that willingly and calculatedly. NCC must live up to expectations and discharge its statutory duties accordingly.
“It is a trite law that there are requisite elements in a valid contract; offer, acceptance, consideration, capacity and clear mutual interest, and any ambiguity surrounding them can lead to voidance of the contract. Irrefutably, the flash messages with ‘Ok’ or ‘Yes’ are deceitful and ambiguous, and must stop”, Umegboro said.
He disclosed that NCC upon receipt of the petition, forwarded it to MTN. In a response copied to him, MTN admitted sending the flash messages with ‘Ok’ or ‘Yes’ for subscription.
“Please be informed that Value Added Services are not automatically activated for customers by default; you may have subscribed to the service in question either by sending a code to a corresponding platform, or by participating in a free product trial, or by pressing ‘yes’ or ‘ok’ to a flash message that appeared on your phone without reading through the content, as such we do not refund such deduction”.
“However, I advise MyCustomer to activate the ‘Do-Not-Disturb’ service (DND) on his line to enable him deactivate any unsolicited services on his line. We regret every inconvenience the reported issue may have caused”, MTN said.
Reacting to the response, Umegboro rejected the explanations and questioned how the masses, especially uneducated subscribers will understand the flash messages or the DND system, arguing that mere ‘OK’ in flash messages are not adequate for acceptance but for mere advertisements.
“Perhaps, educated subscribers will have to travel far and wide to activate the so-called DND for all their relations,” he said.