PTA Publishes Tariff Awareness Guide for Telecom Consumers

PTA-logoPakistan Telecommunication Authority has published a tariff awareness guide for telecommunication consumers.

Guide said that authority has remained firm in directing telecom companies for providing accurate information to consumers regarding tariffs and to avoid misleading advertisements, however, in an effort acquire further customers telecom companies kept complicating the tariff plans.

PTA said that this awareness guide is aimed at providing  retail  customers, essential information for making well informed  decision regarding choice of tariff package, informing them of their and the operator’s rights with regards to tariff packages, and conveying the ways of seeking remedy should they feel the operator has not fulfilled its responsibility.

PTA’s tariff guide clarifies that there will be no cut in GST rate for telecom sector, which many had believed would be the case following the FY13 federal budget announcement.

Selecting Your Package:

Do not make a hasty  decision that you may  regret later on. Seek all the information associated with the service you are interested in. Every consumer has different need and a
package available in the market may or may not suit your needs.

For example if you talk almost equally on all networks then opt for package with low call rate on all networks. If you peak very little outside your own network then you are better off with a package that offers cheaper on-net rates. Therefore, before making a decision on which tariff package to opt for, you should be very clear about your needs.

Ask yourself the following questions for each package under consideration. If you think you
have answers to all of these questions, only then consider these packages for comparison, otherwise seek further information.

  • What is the price of this package? (Pay attention to nuances such as Peak, Off Peak, Per Minute or Per Second call-charging features. Calculate the effective per minute
    price for better comparison)
  • What is the on-net and off-net call price?
  • Is this package a bundle offer that combines several services (e.g. voice, SMS, data)that cannot be separated?
  • Is there any recurring charge (daily/monthly deductions, line rent)?
  • Is there any security deposit? If yes, how much?
  • What are the terms of payment (in arrears or in advance)? Is there any late payment penalty or other payment aspects that you must know?
  • What are applicable other terms and conditions? (validity, downgrade charge package conversion charge, usage detail charges, balance inquiry fee. Such details are often written in fine print, so pay close attention to details)
  • Does the package/promotion talk about “free minutes” or “free balance”?  Bear in mind that “free minutes” are not the same as “free balance”. Free balance can be used on services other than voice calls as well.
  • Does the package include an “unlimited” service? The word “unlimited” generally does not mean literally unlimited. “Unlimited” plans/offers tend to have a fair usage policy/non-abuse limit. Find out what it is.
  • Do you know the cost  of ancillary services? (help line charges, credit recharge
    charges, fee for usage detail etc.)
  • Whether the prices quoted are exclusive or inclusive of taxes?

Cellular Tariff Plans:

Taxes on Telecom Services:

All telecom services (except internet) are subject to various Government taxes. These taxes are either charged upfront (for example  Withholding  Tax is deducted as soon as you recharge your pre-paid account) or are deducted on usage basis (for example Federal Excise Duty (FED) is charged on per call basis).

The  current rates of Withholding Tax and FED on telecom services are 10% and 19.5% respectively. However, these rates keep changing and therefore you should find out the latest applicable tax rates.

Tariffs advertised by the operators normally tend to exclude tax rates. Therefore, any calculation of effective out of pocket expense to a consumer must also take into account all applicable taxes.

Calculating Taxes:

As mentioned above, WHT of 10 percent is deducted as soon as you will recharge your account. Hence, 10 percent of whatever amount you will recharge will be deducted.

Example: If you recharge Rs. 100 then Rs. 10 will be deducted as With Holding Tax. In case if you recharge Rs. 35 then Rs. 3.5 will be deducted as WHT in advance.

FED is charged on per call/SMS or any revenue generating transaction.

Example: If you make a call that is charged at Rs. 1 per minute and you make a three minutes call then taxes (FED at 19.5%) will be as following:

  • Airtime Charges: Rs. 1 x 3 (minutes) = Rs. 3
  • FED = 3 x 19.5/100 = 0.585
  • Total Charges: Airtime Charges + FED = Rs. 3 + Rs. 0.585 = Rs. 3.585

Service Charges on Scratch Cards and Easyloads:

Mobile operators and several  Fixed Wireless  Local Loop  operators  levy additional service charges on reload of pre-paid accounts through scratch cards and easy-loads. The following charges are currently being charged mobile operators on pre-paid accounts:

All  mobile operators except Telenor levy  5% service charges on the face value of all recharges (through top-up / Jazz load/ easy load/ money load and scratch cards). This charge is 7.0% in case of Telenor.

In addition to the above service charges, the following cellular mobile operators (CMOs) also deduct the following fees/charges on the face value of all recharges (through top-up / Jazz load/ easy load/ money load and scratch cards).

  • Ufone Account Maintenance Charge: 2.0%
  • Mobilink Operational Fee: 2.0%
  • Zong Operational Charge: 2.0%
  • Warid Maintenance Charge: 2.0%

In simpler words, all operators charge 7 percent of your scratch card or easyload as service/maintenance/operational charges.

Check below table to know better about your balance after loading Rs. 100 card:

Telenor_Service_Charges

Help Line Charges:

Following are the help line/directory assistance charges of major operators (in Pak Rupees excluding taxes). These charges apply when  you  connect to customer service representatives through helpline.

The charges may be lower if you only connect to the interactive voice response (IVR) and do not talk to the customer service representative. Furthermore, these charges are deducted on per call basis i.e. they are not dependent on call duration.

helpline_charges

Registering Complaints:

In case of any complaints, the first point of contact should be the operator concerned. If the operator does not resolve the issue, or you remain unsatisfied with the operator’s response, you can lodge a complaint with PTA at its Headquarters in Islamabad or with any of its Zonal Offices.

The contact details for lodging complaints through email, postal mail, telephone, email or online at PTA website are given below.

  • Telephone Numbers:
    • 0800-55055 (Toll Free Number)
    • 051-9225325
    • 051-9225329-30 (Ext-155) PTA Exchange
    • FAX. 051-2878127
  • E-Mail. [email protected]
  • On-line. http://www.pta.gov.pk > Consumer Support > Complaints > Complain Form
  • Postal Mail/ Consumer Protection Directorate, PTA Headquarters,

You can download complete tariff awareness guide by clicking this link (PDF File – 285KB)

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK