Mobilink has announced a 50 percent increase in balance inquiry charges from April 17th, 2012.
An advert published in various newspapers today (also given here) read that charges for all balance inquiry services will be charged at 15 paisas plus tax (which would be 18 paisas including tax) from April 17th, 2012.
Earlier, balance inquiry charges were 10 paisas plus tax or 12 paisas including tax.
The saga of new charges from cellular operators is not new. Almost all operators are in constant habit of imposing additional charges or increasing current charges of value added services (which are usually free), such as calling help line, maintenance charges and so on.
It is feared that other operators will follow Mobilink and will increase balance inquiry charges from 12 paisas to 18 paisas per inquiry.
PTA’s Role in Curtailing Operators from Imposing Additional Charges:
PTA isn’t doing much in this regards. In fact, Chairman PTA Dr. Muhammad Yasin once officially told Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat that authority could not ask operators to fix service charges. Dr. Yasin said that setting a ceiling price is impossible because the cost of operators has gone up due to increase in power tariff.
Committee members had proposed PTA to fix a ceiling on account of service charges that cellular operators regularly impose on mobile phone customers. But it appears authority is siding the telecom companies, leaving behind its motto of protecting consumers.
After PTA’s this decision of not regulating service charges, Competition Commission of Pakistan is the only hope for consumers, which can restrict operators from imposing such charges at industry level.
It merits mentioning here that government is also considering to impose 2 % radio tax on every reload from July 2012.