Overcharged Globe subscribers won’t get refund
MANILA, Philippines—The Court of Appeals has issued a 60-day temporary restraining order stopping the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) from enforcing an order to Globe Telecom to refund its subscribers for overpriced text messaging rates.
In a nine-page resolution dated Sept. 3, the appeals court’s 16th Division through Associate Justice Maria Elisa Sempio-Dy said the huge amount to be collected from Globe is one of the reasons that a restraining order should be issued.
The appeals court added that there is also no clear mechanisms on how to effect the refund for postpaid and prepaid subscribers.
“Moreover, if the assailed decision is not restrained at this stage and implementation thereof is allowed to proceed and this Court later on finds that the appealed decision should be set aside, recovery of the amounts already garnished might later on prove to be impossible for petitioner and render our decision ineffectual,” the appeals court said.
The restraining order shall take effect upon the payment of P500,000 cash bond or approval of a surety bond application by Globe.
At the same time, it also ordered the NTC to explain within 10 days why the restraining order should not be made permanent.
NTC earlier said that the cellular mobile telephone service (CMTS) providers running liability to the subscribing public is over P7 billion. Thus, it issued separate orders to mobile networks to immediately refund and cut messaging charges from P1 to P0.80.
The NTC also ordered the three telecom companies to refund or reimburse their subscribers these excess charge of P0.20 per off-net SMS from the effectivity of the memorandum circular until fully settled, by crediting the load of prepaid subscribers or effecting the refund through the respective bills for postpaid subscribers.
Digitel, which operates Sun Cellular, already received a TRO from the Court of Appeals.
Smart also has a separate petition before the appellate court.
Globe, in its petition, said it is not clear how the NTC order can be implemented.
“To whom will the P0.20 refund per text be given, when the identity of the prepaid users is unknown, and the great overwhelming majority of the prepaid market have long been using and continue to use unlimited (instead of piso-per-text) services?” Globe asked.
It added that they are not sure either how much should be given to each prepaid subscriber considering that neither Globe nor the other CMTS providers could find a way of knowing how much each of the million subscribers had consumed in prepaid loads in the past.
“But this begs the question: are these subscribers the very same subscribers who were charged one peso (P1.00) per text in the past? If they are not, then where is consumer justice there?” Globe added.
Globe added that the NTC’s order is putting into jeopardy the financial viability of the entire telecommunications industry and the public will likely suffer if it is not enjoined.
“It may be true that what the Commission did was popular. But what it did was, without doubt, premeditatedly unjust and this continuing injustice and disservice must be stopped,” the company stressed.
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