The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has uncovered a huge volume of forceful subscription to services and illegal deduction for same by telcos. The regulator also promised to order the telcos involved in the scam to refund all the cash illegally deducted to their customers.
“The NCC has noted with great displeasure the unacceptably high level of consumer complaints in respect of forceful subscriptions to Value-Added Services (VAS), as well as airtime deductions for these subscriptions. The Commission mandated several initiatives to tackle the menace. These include the institution of a comprehensive investigation and resolution process, the Do-not-Disturb (DND) facility, and the imposition of sanctions for breach.”
How did NCC arrive at its findings
Disturbed by the persistent occurrence of the menace despite these measures, the Commission carried out a long and comprehensive investigative audit into VAS subscriptions across all MNOs (mobile network operators) and VAS platforms. The investigative audit was led by the Compliance Monitoring & Enforcement Department of the Commission, with participation from its other departments such as the Technical Standards and Network Integrity (TSNI), Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB), Legal & Regulatory Services (LRS), and Licensing & Authorisation (L&A).
The Audit Team analysed subscribers’ Call Detail Records from MNOs and subscription logs from VAS providers over a period of two years, leading to the conclusion that a huge percentage of VAS services were not voluntarily subscribed for. The audit team also found that some providers had implemented disingenuous mechanisms by which large numbers of innocent consumers were “forcefully” subscribed to VAS platforms, leading to regular deduction of their airtime without their consent.
The statement noted that the Commission has persistently insisted that actions of this sort are unacceptable as they are in direct breach of the Nigerian Communications Act and NCC’s many regulatory instruments on the matter. Such actions also undermine the very foundations of the customer/service provider relationship, that is, transparency and trust.
The Commission is the independent regulatory authority for the telecommunications industry in Nigeria. The NCC was created under Decree number 75 by the (Federal Military Government of Nigeria) on 24 November 1992.