Consumer groups on Friday urged the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to compel network providers Smart, Globe and Sun Cellular to immediately return the 7.6 billion pesos (US$1.75 billion) overcharge in SMS (short message service or texting) to their subscribers.
“Telcos are arguing that it would be difficult to track whom to give the refund to. Why not just give everyone a refund? We demand an immediate refund of 89 pesos ($2.05) per SIM cardholder on all networks,” TxTPower spokesperson MacYanto said.
Members of Agham and Bayan Metro Manila joined Friday’s protest in front of the NTC compound on BIR Road, Quezon City, bearing placards shaped as cell phones and tablets with the hashtag "smsrefundnow".
The 7.6 billion pesos ($1.75 billion) was based on the NTC estimate that telcos earn 8 million pesos ($1.84 billion) a day. There are 106.5 million mobile subscribers as of 2013.
In a 2011 memorandum, the NTC asked the telcos to refund 20 centavos for every peso ($0.02) charged for SMS sent to other networks.
The telcos have a pending appeal at the Court of Appeals.
Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares said NTC should enforce its memorandum despite the appeal.
“Under the rules of court, any decision of a quasijudicial body is executory even if under appeal,” he said.
“If the telcos win the case, they could recover it. It wouldn’t be hard to collect since they have a captive market,” Colmenares said.
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