Leave it to consumers to opt for added services

I refer to the letter by Ms Karen Low of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) (PRS barring service provided to protect consumers; July 24).

A large number of customers of mobile companies are not consumers of premium rate services (PRS).

Further, a large percentage of mobile users are not necessarily IT-savvy consumers.

Given the role of IMDAin protecting consumers, it is not enough to offer a PRS barring service.

This requires consumers to not forget to enable PRS barring and to be tech-savvy enough to know how to do it.

We need to follow the European approach.

Mobile phone SIM card contracts must be always sold with PRS disabled by default.

Switching on the access to PRS by a consumer will thus be a deliberate act that has a clear audit trail.

No consumer can then say he did it by mistake, or complain about wrong billing as there will be clear evidence that he enabled PRS and that he selected a specific service.

This will also ensure that no consumer can be cheated by a rogue PRS provider.

Also, no telco operator can then be accused of trying to generate additional revenue by leaving on features that can separate unsuspecting consumers from some of their money.

This approach need not be limited to mobile services.

In general, it is good practice for all service packages for the public to be sold with only basic features enabled, leaving it to the consumer to optfor additional services, even if they are free.

In fact, this is what European Union legislation supports.

This is the correct approach that needs to be regulated by all ministries.

Rahul Patwardhan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2018, with the headline 'Leave it to consumers to opt for added services'. Print Edition | Subscribe