Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto has filed a bill prohibiting telecommunication companies (telcos) from imposing an expiration period on the validity of prepaid call and texts cards and the forfeiture of unused load credits.
Senate Bill 2231 or the “Prepaid Load Protection Act of 2014” said prepaid subscribers do not get the full value of the load credits they pay for due to expiration.
At present, the telcos set the expiration of prepaid call and text cards after two years and that of electronic load after 15 to 120 days depending on the denomination.
”This means that unused prepaid cards will no longer work after two years and that unutilized load credits will be forfeited after their corresponding expiration period; hence, a waste of prepaid subscriber’s money and additional income for the telecommunication company,” Recto explained.
The proposed bill wants to make the setting of expiration of the validity of load credits “prohibited acts with corresponding penalties.”
The proponent said “this will ensure that every peso spent to purchase load credits are saved and usable until the day the credits are fully consumed.”
The measure provides a fine ranging from P100,000 to P1 million and imprisonment of not less than two years but not more than six years for “any director, officer, employee or agent” of a telecommunication company that imposes load expiration.
If the violation will be committed by the “duly licensed” telecommunication company, a P500,000 fine will be imposed for first offense; 30-day suspension of license for the second; and, license revocation for the third.
Based on the 2013 data of the National Telecommunications Commission, around 80 million of the approximately 100 million mobile phone subscribers in the Philippines are prepaid subscribers.
The major telecommunications operating in the Philippines are Smart Communications Inc. and Globe Telecom.