– is monitoring complaints against collection agencies
The country’s telephone oversight body has expressed concerns over complaints from consumers about unsolicited mail and messages.
Public Utilities Commission (PUC), describing the practice as a “domestic spam attack”, warned yesterday that unless there is a halt to the sending of the messages, they will be moving to have authorities enact laws to address it.
Consumers have been expressing surprise that their phone numbers were shared with various companies sending out messages for shows and a host of other products being sold or services offered.
“In the industry this type of practice is known as Domestic Spam Attack. There seems to be the practice, especially among some businesses that share consumers’ mobile numbers among themselves, thereby, seeking to facilitate any member of the group to push advertisements to consumer’s mobile phones. It is not unknown that certain groups are set up to solicit advertisements for a fee and ‘spam’ them off to unsuspecting consumers.”
The Commission said that business enterprises involved should immediately desist from this practice as it encroaches on the right of privacy of unsuspecting consumers, and “it is a disgusting exercise by inconsiderate persons. In other jurisdictions, spamming is a criminal offence and involves conviction and condign punishment.”
Meanwhile, PUC has also expressed concerns over the operations of collection agencies that have arrangements to receive payments for utilities.
“The Commission has overtime been receiving complaints from consumers who allege that they have had their services disconnected, even though they have settled in full their indebtedness to the company through one of the collection agencies. This often forces consumers to settle again with the utility and to pay the reconnection fee if they desire a speedy reconnection of their service, while their complaint is being investigated.”
PUC noted that not all consumers are in a financial position to pay twice and would have to wait until a final determination of their complaint is made before the restoration of their service.
“The Commission wishes to categorically state, that when payments are made by consumers through any of the collection agencies, the utility is deemed to be in receipt of those payments and the obligation of the consumer has been discharged.”
The body pointed out that once consumers make payments to a utility, they should ensure safe custody of their receipts as this is their only proof of payment, and it is critical to the settlements of disputes with utilities in this regard.
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